OSWEGO - A three-way GOP primary is likely to determine who will fill State Rep. Tom Cross' (R-Oswego) heavily Republican House seat next year. While Plainfield real estate agent Mark Batinick may have hoped being first to announce would intimidate others from getting in the race, two other candidates have also filed - Shorewood Mayor Rick Chapman and Oswego's Amanda Mancke.
House Republican Organization (HRO) spokesman Joe Woodward told Illinois Review last month that HRO would not be picking a favorite in the 97th race. But at the time, HRO staffer Dave Krahn was introducing Amanda Mancke at GOP gatherings, a non-verbal indication of the organization's support.
When Ms. Mancke's petitions came in on the last filing day, more indication of HRO support of her became evident. The names of a Republican House consultant Eric Pulia and House Republican Communications Director Ashley Barry appeared among Mancke's petition circulators.
Illinois Review contacted Ms. Barry via her only known email address, she responded by saying she couldn't respond because the query had come to her legislative email address. She did not offer a personal address or phone number wherein to contact her, nor did she simply to the query using her personal email.
HRO spokesman Joe Woodward, told IR, "It's an open primary and there are individuals and organizations that want to support each of these candidates in the 97th. I have not deterred anyone's participation for any candidate."
Woodward said Eric Pulia no longer works for HRO, and that Ashley Barry is personal friends with Mancke.
"It's my understanding that the staff member was asked by a friend to pass petitions and so she did so on her own time," Woodward said on Barry's behalf. He reinterated HRO has not endorsed in the 97th House race.
Ms. Mancke serves on the Illinois Education Association's legislative committee which constructed the teacher union's political platform. IEA's platform strongly opposes school choice, homeschooling and upholds several planks that are counter to the ILGOP's platform. The IEA also promotes a shift to progressive income taxes in Illinois.
That's a concern for Mancke's opponent Mark Batinick. "There were a lot of people from well out of the area that were circulating. Why all the people from Chicago coming to Oswego?" Batinick told Illinois Review. "I think it is pretty clear that Joe Woodward was lying ... when he said HRO was not involved."
One Democrat, Dennis Grosskopf of Shorewood, has filed to run in the Democratic primary on March 18, 2014.