February 03, 2023


Campaign notebook: GOP statehouse candidates walk slim line on Biden legitimacy

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Did Joe Biden win the 2020 presidential election?

Only two of the Sauk Valley’s legislative candidates – Li Arellano and incumbent Rep. Tony McCombie, R-Savanna, – definitively answered yes in questionnaires provided by Shaw Media in advance of the June 28 primary election.

Interestingly, both have experience in the executive branch of government, Arellano is Dixon’s current mayor and McCombie is the former mayor of Savanna.

Shaw Media asked state legislative candidate this question because the laws governing elections are set by the states, thus, it’s their responsibility.

The three legislative races in the Sauk Valley are all Republican primaries.

Two candidates acknowledged Biden’s victory, but qualified their answers.

Bradley Fritts said Biden was “clearly certified” as the winner and Brett Nicklaus said as a constitutionalist he “respected” the result.

Fritts further asserted that “over one-third of the country believes that there was some form of election fraud. To me, this is a serious concern.”

Fritts didn’t source his comment. However, an Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research poll taken Jan. 29-Feb. 1, 2021, showed that when Americans were asked if Biden was legitimately elected, 66% said yes and 33% said no. Down party lines, 97% of Democrats thought he was, while 33% of Republicans said he was. The divide among Independent voters was 63% yes to 36% no.

Two candidates did not directly answer the question: state Sen. Win Stoller, R-Germantown Hills, and Victoria Onorato.

Stoller, a proponent of voter ID, provided a 516-word explanation of the role lawmakers can play in election reform so that the electorate can have confidence in the results and offered his record of co-sponsoring ballot integrity measures. He also added that “every election authority in the country needs to obey the election code to the letter of the law.”

Onorato said, “This is exactly the kind of question that is creating hatred and division amongst Americans. I won’t be a part of it.”

As a follow-up, Shaw asked the candidates their position on the Jan. 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol and those answers are as follows:

House 74th District candidates

Arrellano: Any and all who broke the law should be investigated, then tried and convicted as necessary.

Fritts: Every American has the right to express their grievances through peaceful protest. I do not condone any form of violence regardless of the issue at hand. Anyone who attacks government buildings, private property or citizens for any cause should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.

House 89th District candidates

McCombie: All criminal acts should be investigated and punished. Attempts to influence any policy with violence should be discouraged by all leaders and prosecuted appropriately.

Onorato: This is exactly the kind of question that is creating hatred and division amongst Americans. I won’t be part of it.

Senate 37th District candidates

Stoller: Obviously, it was horrific.

Nicklaus: Criminal acts should be punished.

More online

Visit saukvalley.com/election to positions on a variety of issues from candidates who answered a questionnaire.


There will be a meet -nd-greet for Democratic party candidates at 5 p.m. June 21 at Walton Tap on Walton Road between Dixon and Amboy.

• Campaign Notebook is a periodic look at news leading up to the 2022 general election. Submit announcements of upcoming meet-n-greet opportunities to news@saukvalley.com.

Troy Taylor

Troy E. Taylor

Was named editor for Saukvalley.com and the Gazette and Telegraph in 2021. An Illinois native, he has been a reporter or editor in daily newspapers since 1989.