A sheriff's race between an embattled incumbent and his former right-hand man is beginning with a wide gap in their fundraising.
Madison County Sheriff Bob Hertz has raised more money than any other county candidate, with $43,457 in his election fund at the end of the fourth quarter of 2013.
Glen Carbon Police Chief John Lakin, who is challenging Hertz in the Democratic primary, reported $2,650 raised by the end of the fourth quarter. However, that was only a month after Lakin launched his campaign. According to reports at the Illinois State Board of Elections, Lakin has raised $20,000 in January alone.
That still puts Lakin with about half the funds his former boss has raised.
Hertz, first elected sheriff in 2002, has been seen by some as vulnerable this year due to two lawsuits filed against him in federal court alleging sexual harassment and violation of an employee's civil rights.
But Hertz said he is not discouraged by the lawsuits.
"It's unfortunate that I can't deal with that in court prior to this primary," he said. "I wish I could, but I don't have any control over the federal court schedule, and that case won't be heard for quite some time. I have done nothing wrong to either one of those people, and when this finally gets into court where everyone will testify under oath, I will be vindicated."
Hertz also said he is "not convinced there isn't a political side" to the lawsuits, which he said were filed within days of his filing to run for re-election. "I think that's more than coincidental," he said.
Lakin disagrees. "Bob is entitled to his opinion, but that's not the case," he said. "As I said before, I won't comment on any legal issues that the sheriff has. As he said, that will be played out in court."
Lakin served 22 years in the sheriff's department, rising to the rank of major under Hertz's command before leaving in 2011 to become chief of police in Glen Carbon.
Hertz said running against Lakin was "certainly different."
"You don't see that happen all that often in politics, where the right-hand man runs against his former boss, but it is what it is," Hertz said.
Hertz has received the endorsement of the Madison County Democratic Party and some union organizations, which he was "very grateful to have."
"Those are assets to my campaign," Hertz said. "I'm optimistic, but any time you have opposition you have to be concerned. You never know what's going to happen."
Lakin said the party's decision to back Hertz was "disappointing." But he said he has been "very grateful" for the response he's gotten: more than 2,700 fans on social networking, even requiring the order of another 1,000 yard signs.
"The response that we've gotten is absolutely overwhelming and very humbling," Lakin said.
Lakin said becoming sheriff has always been a goal of his, and with his experience as Glen Carbon's chief for the last few years, he feels the time is right for him to run.
"I loved working there, loved the people there and the citizens of Madison County," Lakin said.
The Madison County Republican Party has not slated a primary candidate for the office of sheriff, though they still have the option to nominate a candidate after the primary decides which Democrat will run.
The primary election will take place on March 18.
Contact reporter Elizabeth Donald at firstname.lastname@example.org or 618-239-2507.