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updated: 8/13/2011 6:56 PM

Attorney tapped to replace southern Illinois state rep.

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Associated Press

AVISTON, Ill. -- Southern Illinois Republican leaders have chosen an attorney from O'Fallon to replace a longtime state representative.

Former state Rep. Ron Stephens served in the Illinois House for 27 years before resigning earlier this month, citing personal reasons.

The Belleville News-Democrat reports ( ) that Republican Party chairmen in the district unanimously selected 50-year-old Paul Evans to replace Stephens at a meeting Saturday.

Evans will finish Stephens' term, which expires in January 2013. He says he plans to run for the seat in the fall 2012 election.

The current 102nd House District covers all or portions of Bond, Clinton, Madison, St. Clair, Effingham, Fayette and Shelby counties.