EDWARDSVILLE – Despite his GOP opponent crying "unfair," Illinois Republican Party spokesman Joe Hackler has no intention of backing away from his bid for the 112th District State House seat.
Hackler and Jennifer Korte of Edwardsville are vying for the position in the June 28th IL GOP primary.
"This is a critical time in the fight to save Illinois. So no, I'm not stepping away from the battle against the Pritzker-Madigan machine in Springfield that's destroying our state," Hackler said in an email to Illinois Review.
Previous to his email reply, Hackler referred to a statement on his behalf from House Minority Leader Jim Durkin's PAC House Republican Majority (HRM) Executive Director Jayme Siemer.
“While Jen Korte sat on the sidelines election after election, Joe Hackler has been fighting to elect Republican candidates throughout southern Illinois for almost a decade. In fact, Korte didn’t even bother to vote in the 2020 election to support our Republican president, local Republican candidates, or even to vote ‘No’ on the Tax Hike Amendment,” Siemer wrote on Hackler's behalf.
Siemer's statement seemed to confirm opponent's Jennifer Korte's complaint about the IL GOP spokesman's perceived interest conflict.
Siemer's involvement in the primary means the HRM is using their resources and personnel to favor the race towards Hackler. Hackler agreed when asked if HRM was involved in the race. "Both Korte and myself interviewed with HRM to gain their support," Hackler said. "They chose me, yes."
Korte asked that Hackler take a leave of absence during the primary.
“The state party exists to promote Republican candidates in Illinois and having a member of the staff run for a state legislative office is a conflict of interest,” Korte said. “The Illinois Republican Party as a matter of practice should stay out of primaries especially in races where there is no Republican incumbent. It is hard for the Illinois Republican Party to argue they are not taking sides when one of their own is running in a contested primary. Joe Hackler should take a leave from his job to assure voters there is no impropriety in his run for State Representative.”
Korte said the Illinois Republican Party provides benefits to candidates such as the use of state party mail rates, access to databases and other resources, which could give Hackler a potential unfair advantage.
“The bottom line is that Joe can see all of the lists my campaign compiles using the party’s voter database and he even has a hand in deciding what party resources I can access and which one I can’t,” Korte said. “It is an unfair advantage that simply should not exist. If Joe Hackler wants to be a candidate for office – be a candidate for office. If he wants to be the spokesman for the state party – be the spokesman. But he should not do both. I call him on to step aside from his position at the Illinois Republican Party immediately.”
Hackler rejected Korte's call and intends to pursue the seat.
The IL GOP has a spokesman? Illinois has an IL GOP?