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updated: 3/9/2012 7:17 PM

Cash infusion for District 31 candidate

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  • Joe Neal

    Joe Neal

  • Linwood "Lennie" Jarratt

    Linwood "Lennie" Jarratt

  • Lawrence "Larry" Leafblad

    Lawrence "Larry" Leafblad

  • Michael White

    Michael White


More than $13,000 was pumped into Republican Joe Neal's state Senate District 31 campaign in a recent one-week span, but his three opponents say they aren't concerned.

One of Neal's foes, Linwood "Lennie" Jarratt of Round Lake Beach, contends the cash infusion is a sign the Wadsworth resident's campaign is "not where he wants to be in the polls."

Jarratt, Neal, Lawrence "Larry" Leafblad of Grayslake and Michael White of Lindenhurst seek the seat Republican Suzi Schmidt of Lake Villa won two years ago. Domestic problems led Schmidt to not enter the March 20 primary.

Melinda Bush of Grayslake, who's unopposed in the Democratic primary, will face the GOP winner in the November general election. District 31 covers most of northern and parts of central Lake County.

Neal's campaign committee received $13,500 from Feb. 28 through Tuesday, according to Illinois State Board of Elections records. His top donors were the political-action committees from the Illinois Chamber of Commerce with $5,000, Stand for Children Illinois with $4,500 and the Illinois State Medical Society with $2,000.

State election law requires a report must be filed whenever a candidate collects at least $1,000 from a single donor in one year.

Neal, a civil and transportation engineer, couldn't be reached for comment.

White, a branding and marketing consultant, said Friday his low-budget approach is a contrast to the political-action committees donating to Neal.

"I think it's more of a concern to voters," White said of Neal's contributors. "I think it's more of the long-arm of Springfield."

Jarratt, owner of a website design and consulting business, reported a $1,600 contribution from real-estate company owner Thomas Crichton of Lake Villa on March 4.

Leafblad, an independent senior consultant for Ambit Energy, said he hasn't received a spate of large contributions similar to Neal, but he was able to buy an $8,000 commercial on Comcast's Lake County cable-television service placing him on Fox News Channel's prime-time shows.

On the issues, Leafblad and Neal have provided similar ideas about wanting a pension plan with options for public employees in an effort to save taxpayers' money. Jarratt says a way to fix the struggling system would be to have a maximum annual pension payout of $75,000 for a 40-year public employee.

White has said the state constitution may have to be changed and pensions removed from it.

Regarding civil unions, White, Leafblad and Neal said they are in favor. Jarratt said he opposes Illinois now allowing civil unions, contending that's a move toward lawful same-sex marriage.

All four GOP candidates and Bush are making their first run at state Senate. Bush is a member of the Lake County Board, where Leafblad previously served.

Jarratt is founder of the Lake County Tea Party. Neal, Jarratt and White have never held an elected post.

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