Spotlight: Illinois GOP official resigns after calling former Miss America ‘street walker’
Illinois GOP official resigns after calling former Miss America ‘street walker’
|While reigning Miss America in 2003, Erika Harold speaks at Margaret Made Jr. High School in Elk Grove Village about youth violence and bullying. (George Thompson / Tribune file / April 16, 2003)|
Jim Allen of Farmersville, the chairman of the Montgomery County GOP, sent the resignation letter today to new Illinois Republican Chairman Jack Dorgan. Dorgan called Allen’s remarks “offensive and inappropriate.”
Allen, who supports freshman Republican U.S. Rep. Rodney Davis of Taylorville, made his remarks in an e-mail to a supporter of Harold. She is the 2003 Miss America from Urbana and a former Chicago attorney.
In the e-mail, which was later posted online, Allen referred to Harold as a “little queen” and the “love child” of the Democratic National Committee. Allen also wrote that after losing the 2014 March primary Harold would end up back in Chicago — though he used a derogatory spelling — “working for some law firm that needs to meet their quota for minority hires.” Harold is African American.
Allen later acknowledged to the State Journal-Register of Springfield that his comments were “very inappropriate” and said he had apologized to Harold and her supporters. Allen was unavailable for comment today.
But on Thursday, Allen submitted his resignation to state GOP officials after being urged to do so by National Republican Chairman Reince Priebus and by U.S. Rep. Davis.
Priebus, who heads a political party actively seeking to improve its outreach to racial and ethnic groups following the 2012 elections, said “the astonishingly offensive views” expressed by Allen have no place in the party. “His behavior is inexcusable and must not be tolerated,” Priebus said.
Davis said Allen made comments that were “incredibly dumb” and said he should step down.
Harold’s entry into a primary race against Davis has fueled anger among the freshman congressman’s supporters who contend a costly contest would divert resources from what’s expected to be a tough general election campaign.
Davis, chosen by local GOP leaders to fill a ballot vacancy last year after veteran Rep. Tim Johnson of Urbana decided not to run again after winning the primary, is regarded as a top target for Democrats next year in the 13th District, which stretches from Champaign-Urbana north to Bloomington and southwest toward East St. Louis.
In the November 2012 election, Davis defeated frequent Democrat David Gill by 1,002 votes, or 0.34 percent, out of more than 273,000 ballots cast between the two candidates.