Kane County Poor Governance Alert (KC PGA) 1: 2020 Republican Primary
Issue: Deciding to run for political office is a difficult decision, particularly when you have a multi-term incumbent involved. The amount of time and capital required in running against the incumbent can dissuade many possible candidates.
In this year's Republican Primary, the incumbent, Chris Lauzen, filed for a third term on Dec. 2 with 50 volunteers used to collect 102 pages of signatures. He also had significant recent funds raised.1 These facts would dissuade many potential candidates from entering the race. Somewhat surprisingly, current County Treasurer Dave Rickert also filed to run.
Mr. Lauzen then stated that he intended to remain in the race, rebutting reports that he was considering withdrawing if Mr. Rickert entered the race. As reported by the Daily Herald, Lauzen stated, "No deals. Do I look like a person who wants to retire? We filed my petitions. I enjoy this work at the county very much. We will be running hard. A full campaign."2 However, on the last day eligible to withdraw from the primary ballot, Lauzen removed his name and subsequently endorsed Rickert.3 Because of these actions, Rickert will run unopposed on March 17.
The actions taken in this race, while legal, appear to be both unethical and undemocratic in my opinion. Had Lauzen not run, Rickert and any other interested party could compete in the race, with the final decision left to the voters. If Lauzen had only exited the race earlier, other candidates may have been able to compete. Instead, by waiting until the last day to withdraw, Lauzen has guaranteed that Rickert will be the Republican General Election candidate.
Action: Though I think what transpired is obvious, prior to publishing this KC PGA, I contacted both parties for comment. Three questions were asked.
- Did Lauzen encourage Rickert to run?
- Was Rickert aware of Lauzen's plan to drop out?
- Did either Rickert or Lauzen think it is appropriate to manipulate the electoral system to benefit a preferred candidate?
Neither party has responded to the email inquiry.
Resolution: None. Kane County voters on the Republican side will have only an unopposed candidate for Kane County Board Chairman in the primary election.