Minor says he could drop out of race before November

 
 
Updated 2/28/2018 11:26 AM
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  • Burt Minor and Erika Harold were smiling during a holiday party last December. But now Harold, who is running for attorney general in the March 20 Republican primary, has accused the legislative candidate of using inappropriate language during an October meeting.

    Burt Minor and Erika Harold were smiling during a holiday party last December. But now Harold, who is running for attorney general in the March 20 Republican primary, has accused the legislative candidate of using inappropriate language during an October meeting. courtesy of Burt Minor

Despite crumbling support, legislative candidate Burt Minor says he won't drop out of next month's Republican primary but still could withdraw before the November general election.

"Even if I win (the primary), it's going to be tough to win in November," Minor said Tuesday. "Would I step down and let someone else run? Maybe."

The 58-year-old Warrenville resident, who's seeking his party's nomination for the 42nd Illinois House seat, raised the possibility in the wake of accusations that he used a homosexual slur and a racial epithet during an October meeting with GOP attorney general candidate Erika Harold.

Harold, 37, of Urbana, said Minor used a crude term to question her sexuality and repeated the N-word several times during a meeting that lasted more than an hour. Harold said she made it clear to Minor that she found the words offensive.

Minor told the Daily Herald editorial board on Monday that he asked Harold if she was a lesbian, but only at her urging. He said he used the "N-word" only once, when Harold asked him what it meant.

The disagreement over the details of that conversation and exactly what words were used and how has triggered a political firestorm in DuPage County and beyond.

Minor, the Winfield Township Republican chairman, entered the race with a long list of endorsements but has seen some of that support erode.

On Tuesday, for example, a spokesman for U.S. Rep. Randy Hultgren said the Plano Republican has withdrawn his support and urged Minor to drop out.

State Rep. David Olsen, a Downers Grove Republican, said he is not taking a stance on Minor's comments but is withdrawing his support from all three GOP candidates in the primary -- including Amy Grant and Ryan Byrne.

Olsen said voters need to determine the truth of what was said and choose to support or not support Minor accordingly.

"Comments that are racist and racially charged -- and some of this very homophobic and inappropriate language -- that really should have no place in the Republican Party," Olsen said. "It should have no place in politics in 2018."

Addison Township Republican Chairman Pat Durante said he will continue to support Minor "on a personal basis."

He wouldn't comment, though, on whether he thought Minor was telling the truth.

"She (Harold) may be telling the truth," he said. "He may be telling the truth. It's allegations. I'm not going to have an opinion on allegations ... I think people ought to just back off until somebody finds out the truth."

But even some Winfield Township precinct committeemen are questioning Minor's comments.

Suzanne Heffner Hackenbruch, who has been a GOP committeeman for roughly 20 years, said she was "shocked and offended" when Minor told a group of fellow Republicans about his conversation with Harold.

She said Minor recounted how he asked Harold a series of questions that culminated with asking whether she was a lesbian.

"I couldn't believe what I heard," she said. "At no time did he indicate that Erika had invited him to ask her any tough questions ... I don't see how her personal life has anything to do with (issues in DuPage)."

Minor said he understands why Hultgren, Olsen and others "called me and said they were pulling their support for me."

"They all want to win in November. They don't need to be involved in this. It's a Catch-22 for them, unfortunately," Minor said.

With the primary less than three weeks away, it's too late for Minor to remove his name from the ballot. To leave the race now, Minor said, "means I lied." If Minor steps down after the primary, a three-person selection committee formed by the GOP would chose a replacement candidate.

Meanwhile, Minor said he's "getting destroyed by everybody; a lot of negative comments."

He said typing his name into online searches brings up words such as "racist" and "homophobic."

"I didn't see this coming," Minor said. "Let's be good Republicans and stop this. It's not good for the Republican Party. It's not good for the people of Illinois."

• Daily Herald staff writers Burt Constable, Katlyn Smith and Marie Wilson contributed to this report.

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