Endorsement: Rescinding our support for Minor candidacy

  • Republican primary candidates, Burt Minor, for Illinois state representative in District 42, left, and Erika Harold, for state attorney general, posed together at an event last December for this photo posted on Minor's Facebook page.

    Republican primary candidates, Burt Minor, for Illinois state representative in District 42, left, and Erika Harold, for state attorney general, posed together at an event last December for this photo posted on Minor's Facebook page. Photo Courtesy of Burt Minor

 
The Daily Herald Editorial Board

Winfield Township Republican Chairman Burt Minor says his now-controversial meeting last October with Erika Harold, a candidate for the GOP nomination for attorney general, "has been greatly misrepresented."

In that meeting, Harold said, Minor, now running for the Illinois House, used a pejorative term to ask if she is a lesbian and repeatedly used the N-word in asking her when the racial slur would be appropriate to use.

Harold campaign finance director Katelyn Wallace, who attended the meeting, backs Harold's account.

In a lengthy statement last week and in an interview earlier this week with our Editorial Board, Minor gave a substantially different account.

He said he was attempting to coach Harold in advance of her run for attorney general. He denied using the homophobic slur although he conceded that he asked about her sexual orientation. He acknowledged using the racial slur but said he did so only once in answer to a question from Harold asking what "N-word" means. He said the N-word topic came up in the first place when he was talking about the dynamics of Republican political personalities and he referred to a provocative conservative who has publicly questioned whether the word must always be off-limits

You can view the full video of Minor's defense at dailyherald.com and gauge for yourself how credible you think that defense is.

In some respects, this is a classic he-said-she-said. We'll probably never know for certain whose story is accurate. And it's a shame that it seems to be politicized by State Rep. Peter Breen, a Minor foe in Republican Party politics.

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But here's what's troublesome about Minor's account:

• In his lengthy statement last week, he failed to specifically deny the slurs attributed to him. That did not come until he spoke to our Editorial Board days later. If the claims were untrue, wouldn't those be the first things you'd deny?

• In our conversation with him, he referred to reports he'd heard in December that his meeting with Harold may create problems. But as much as we asked him about where he'd heard those reports, the more he danced around the subject. It left us with the impression that something is missing in his story of what happened.

• Under what circumstances would anyone, much less an African American like Harold, ask what the N-word means?

• Minor's answer to that question was that he thinks Harold may have been setting him up. But he hadn't announced his candidacy for the House yet; what was there to set up?

These trouble spots do not constitute proof that Minor's story is untrue. But taken together, along with Harold's allegations and Wallace's corroboration of them, they raise enough doubt that we can no longer feel confident in our earlier endorsement of Minor's candidacy.

That being the case, we must rescind that endorsement. We'll offer no GOP primary recommendation in the 42nd Illinois House District.

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