Calling himself outspent and at risk of splitting the fiscal conservative vote a week before the March 15 primary, candidate Paul Serwatka withdrew from the Republican race for the 66th Illinois House District and is endorsing fellow candidate Allen Skillicorn.
Serwatka, of Lakewood, said he is being too far outspent to have a path to victory, and said that he was concerned that he and Skillicorn would split enough votes to allow McHenry County Board member Carolyn Schofield, whom he alleges is not a true fiscal conservative, to clinch the primary.
“I believe I was the stronger candidate, the better candidate, but I’m not splitting the vote … this race was bigger than me," Serwatka said. "It was about trying to effect real reform and save our state, and if that means we don’t split the vote and keep Carolyn Schofield from getting the seat, then I did a good thing."
Skillicorn in a statement said he is “honored to have Paul’s confidence and support.”
“I look forward to continuing the fight for liberty and conservative principles,” said Skillicorn, of East Dundee.
Serwatka has run a self-funded campaign portraying himself as a lone outsider fighting three establishment politicians. But he said the $100,000 of his own money he contributed could not match what his opponents have received, especially in the days after the Northwest Herald wrote about his plan to donate his first year’s state lawmaker salary to a fund to get tax fighters elected to local governments in the 66th District.
Since that story ran Feb. 23, Schofield received $53,900 from the political action committee of the Illinois Education Association, $40,000 from Republican state Sen. Pam Althoff’s campaign and $5,000 from Tryon’s – he has endorsed Schofield, of Crystal Lake, to succeed him.
Liberty Principles PAC, which is supporting Skillicorn, has spent more than $150,000 in the past week alone on television ads for him, according to Illinois State Board of Elections reports. The PAC created by conservative radio host Dan Proft also is publishing the McHenry Times, a political mailer that looks like a newspaper, which runs pro-Skillicorn articles.
To Schofield, who defended her fiscal conservative bona fides compared to her opponents through her County Board votes, the big story of the election has become what she alleges is outside money, distorted truths and dirty tricks.
"This race really has become about Dan Proft and dark money and these tactics, trying to buy the race," Schofield said.
Serwatka flatly denied that his withdrawal has anything to do with a recent McHenry Times article alleging that he accidentally shot a friend with a .22-caliber handgun in 1999.
He called the article inaccurate and said it is contradicted by the very sworn affidavits that have been circulated since last summer to state and local Republican officials in an effort to thwart his campaign.
“This was no secret. It went everywhere. It’s old news by this point. It didn’t hurt me then, and it wasn’t about to hurt me now,” Serwatka said.
Wilbrandt, of West Dundee, reported having $32,361 on hand at the end of last year. Last Thursday, he received a $2,500 donation from the campaign of state Rep. Barbara Wheeler, R-Crystal Lake, and a $2,000 donation from the campaign coffers of outgoing McHenry County State's Attorney Lou Bianchi – Wilbrandt is an assistant state's attorney.