Former McLean County Democratic Party Chair Erik Rankin has dropped out of the race for McLean County circuit clerk.
Rankin confirmed via email to WGLT he officially withdrew from the race on Thursday. He did not indicate a reason. He has not responded to requests for additional comment.
“Before we are candidates, we are human beings with families and lives and those things come first," said McLean County Democratic Party Chair Nikita Richards. "Family is very important and life circumstances certainly do change, so he has my full support."
Rankin’s departure from the race leaves incumbent Republican Don Everhart to run unopposed on Nov. 3 as he seeks a fourth term.
"I have a healthy respect for the election process, the voters and public service with its challenges and opportunities," Everhart said. "For me, I love my job as the circuit clerk of McLean County and feel privileged to serve the court and the public. My campaign will continue to encourage voters to become informed and to cast their ballot."
Rankin declared his candidacy for the office last November. He then said he would not seek re-election as the county’s Democratic Party chair. He served one, two-year term as party leader, following a 10-year run on the McLean County Board.
Leaders in the McLean County Democratic Party have made it a priority to slate candidates for all open seats, something the party has struggled to do for years.
Despite losing a candidate weeks before early voting begins, Richards thinks the party is well positioned in the general election.
“We have two strong countywide candidates in auditor and coroner, both Abbi Sorrells and Rob Fazzini, so not a setback at all,” Richards said. “We look forward to continuing on with this trend of supporting and electing candidates in every position for the ballot.”
Richards did not rule out trying to find another candidate to challenge Everhart, but added the party’s focus would be to support those candidates already on the ballot.
McLean County Clerk Kathy Michael said ballots have not been printed as Aug. 27 was the last day for a candidate to withdraw and the deadline for parties to slate candidates has passed.
Write-in candidates have until Sept. 3 to file.
Early voting begins Sept. 24.
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