-By Warner Todd Huston
Early in April, only two weeks after the Illinois GOP primary had ended, Congressman Timothy Johnson shocked the political classes by suddenly announcing his retirement from Congress — yes, even after he had again won the nomination for his seat. Almost immediately rumors hit that Congressional aide Jerry Clarke wanted to replace Johnson on the ballot. Just as immediately, tongues began to wag that the fix was in and Clarke was handpicked by behind the scenes establishment types to replace the six-term Congressman.
Only days after Johnson made his announcement, to no one’s great surprise, Jerry Clarke announced his desire to have the state party appoint him to run in Congressman Johnson’s stead.
So, how do we get a candidate if the nominee bugs out? Well, since the primary was already done and gone and since Johnson decided he didn’t want the nomination he’d only just won, there is a particular way that a replacement is arranged. In true Chicago/Illinois fashion, the voice of the voters is not required. The Illinois State GOP, as it happens, has the duty to appoint Johnson’s replacement.
What about the fix being in? Well, since establishment GOPers are the ones to do the choosing and not the voters, everyone is suspicious of the whole set up for Clarke’s easy ascent to the ticket because he is in deep with the very people that have the power to give him the nod. But what evidence is there? Why would we say it was all a set up meant to get Clarke easy ballot access without all that messy voting business?
The whole cover story of this situation with Johnson stepping down is that he surprised everyone with his decision. It was supposed to have been a shock to the whole party and come from out of the blue. No one knew, they claim.
But someone knew.
And it appears that that someone in question was… wait for it… Jerry Clarke, Congressman Johnson’s nine-year-long chief of staff.
A damning clue can be found in Clarke’s rather bland campaign website ClarkeforCongress.com, an affair that sports the somewhat amusing catch-line of “I’m ready to serve.” Amusing as well as one lacking even an iota of introspection, one easily construed to be openly stating, “hey, it’s MY turn. I’m ready for MY turn.”
The clue is found not on the website itself but in its registration. It appears that the site was registered on February 10, over a month before the primary.
A Who Is search of website registrations shows the site was registered by Domains By Proxy, LLC of Scottsdale, Arizona 85260 and also shows the following information (my bold):
Registered Through GoDaddy.com, LLC
Domain Name: clarkeforcongress.com
Created on: 2/10/2012 12:21:39 PM
Expires on: 2/10/2014 12:21:39 PM
Last Updated on: 4/10/2012 11:02:14 AM
The big question that immediately comes to mind is: how did Jerry Clarke know that he’d be “surprised” to be running for Congress two months before his own boss announced his “surprise” retirement?
Looks like the fix really was in. The obvious implications here is that Clarke had coordinated with Johnson, knew his boss was about to retire, and the pair had already concocted the plan to surreptitiously anoint him the candidate for the Ill. 13th — again, without having to go through all that silly voting business.
Otherwise, how do we plausibly explain how Mr. Clarke, a mere Congressional staffer, suddenly got the idea to register a Clarke for Congress website even as he was supposed to have understood that his boss was still running for that very seat?
You tell me. Mr. Clarke? What about it?