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Murphysboro mayor drops out of GOP statehouse race

 
Du Quoin Call staff report
updated: 1/17/2020 10:00 AM

Murphysboro Mayor Will Stephens has dropped out of the Republican primary for the 115th state House seat after his petitions were challenged by a rival.

Stephens, who was running in a crowded field that includes Zachary Meyer of Du Quoin, Clifford Lindemann of Bluford, Johnnie Ray Smith II of Ashley, John R. Howard of Texico and Paul Jacobs of Pomona, said his withdrawal comes after Meyer filed an objection to some of Stephens' petition signatures.

"He objected to them on a host of grounds, including that a few people signed my petitions who didn't live in the district, several who did live in district were not registered voters, some had signed other candidates' petitions, and some printed their names, among other issues he raised as grounds to strike them," Stephens said.

Stephens said he spoke to Meyer about his decision to withdraw, calling it "a cordial phone call."

He also said he is "blessed" to continue to lead Murphysboro.

"I apologize to anyone I've let down who was excited about my candidacy," Stephens said. "But I can assure you that this is only a temporary setback for me. I will dust myself off, and come back stronger in the future. This will only serve to fuel my desire to keep fighting to make southern Illinois a better, stronger place -- in whatever capacity is God's will.

"I love this region, and I see only good things ahead for all of us if we work together."

The 115th seat has no incumbent running, as state Rep. Terri Bryant of Murphysboro is running for the 58th state Senate seat that Paul Schimpf is retiring from.

The winner of the March GOP primary for the 115th House district could face a Democratic candidate in the November general election. No Democrat filed to run in the primary, but the party could appoint a candidate to run in the general election.