GOP asks -- again -- for Atanus to quit 9th Congressional race
State and local Republican leaders are once again asking Susanne Atanus to withdraw from the 9th congressional race.
Atanus won the GOP primary Tuesday with a 1,400-vote margin over David Earl Williams III, and expressed hope the party would come around and back her in the general election against Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky.
Those hopes were dashed this week by both the Cook County GOP and the state party.
"The Cook County Republican Organization believes that Atanus should drop out of the race," said Chairman Aaron Del Mar on Thursday.
"Her behavior, comments and decisions do not reflect that of the Cook County Republican Party."
Atanus made national headlines in January after telling the Daily Herald Editorial Board that "God is angry. We are provoking him with abortions and same-sex marriage and civil unions," she said. "Same-sex activity is going to increase AIDS. If it's in our military it will weaken our military. We need to respect God."
She also said she believes God controls the weather and has put tornadoes and diseases such as autism and dementia on earth as in response to gay rights and legalized abortions.
Atanus repeated those statements during the campaign, but told the Daily Herald that the real issue she is focused on is getting the economy back on track. Atanus, who holds an MBA, built her primary campaign on eliminating the stock indexes and other reforms.
Del Mar said he was personally offended by her comments and that the county GOP organization will not endorse her or provide any financial help to her campaign. He called her statements "ludicrous, offensive and indefensible."
"The best thing she can do is get out of the race so we can slate a stronger candidate to run against Schakowsky," Del Mar said.
In January, Illinois Republican Party Chairman Jack Dorgan released a statement: "The offensive statements by Susanne Atanus have no place in the modern political debate, and she has no place on the ballot as a Republican. Her candidacy is neither supported nor endorsed by the leaders of our party, and she should withdraw from the race immediately."
Andrew Welhouse, spokesman for Dorgan, said this week the state party stands by its earlier statement.
David Earl Williams III, of Chicago, who lost to Atanus 15,412 to 13,975, said he thinks he was defeated by Democrats taking Republican ballots and voting for Atanus to help Schakowsky win in November.
"I'm honored to know that Jan saw me as a threat," Williams said.
Williams has considered filing for a recount and said he will run again in two years.
For her part, Schakowsky's campaign office issued a statement Thursday.
"Republicans have nominated a troubled individual with a history of making inflammatory statements that have no place in the public discourse," it says.
"This election cycle, I will be working to advance a progressive agenda and the ideals of the district by helping Democrats take back the House, and keeping Illinois a solid blue state."
Atanus, meanwhile, said that since Tuesday she has been reaching out to Republican party leaders.
"I told them that I am their leader and that I will have victory (in November) just like I did in the primary," she said.
During the primary campaign Atanus did not meet the $5,000 fundraising limit to file with the Federal Election Commission. She said she is not concerned with the vast fundraising apparatus of Schakowsky, who was first elected in 1998.
"I need word-of-mouth and I need people to vote for me," Atanus said.
She said she is also unconcerned with the harsh sentiments from within her own party.
"I have a lot of people who are going to be talking to their friends, family and neighbors and telling them to vote for me," Atanus said. "I've been talking to a lot of Republicans and they know I mean business. They certainly won't vote for Schakowsky so they'll be voting for me."