NORTH AURORA – Kane County Democratic precinct committeemen are passing out campaign literature supporting Tao Martinez for coroner and Sue Klinkhamer for board chairman – but Martinez on Monday announced his endorsement of Republican Chris Lauzen for board chairman, not Klinkhamer.
Martinez issued a statement calling Klinkhamer "a nice lady," but he said she is not the most qualified for the job.
As he has been saying about his own political aspirations, Martinez said there is not a Republican way or a Democratic way to run the coroner's office – just the professional way.
"I'm not playing politics," Martinez said. "It's never been a Republican or Democratic thing for me when it comes to the coroner's office. I work very hard, and I've seen Chris Lauzen working very hard, too."
Martinez is running against Republican Rob Russell in the coroner's race.
"Finally, we found something we agree on," Russell said. "We both endorse Chris Lauzen."
Kane County Democratic Central Committee Chairman Mark Guethle said he could not recall another election in which a candidate endorsed someone from the other party's ticket.
"I have no response to what he did," Guethle said. "I don't think it's ever happened before. At least not since I've been chairman, and that's 10 years. I suppose he is entitled to his opinion."
Klinkhamer, who served as mayor of St. Charles for eight years and district director for former U.S. Rep. Bill Foster, dismissed Martinez's endorsement as political fodder.
"He was recruited by Chris Lauzen to run against Rob Russell," Klinkhamer said, referring to Martinez's opponent in the Nov. 6 general election. "[Lauzen] just does not like him [Russell] because [Russell] was a 'Friend of Karen.' "
The "Friend of Karen" tag refers to current Kane County Board Chairman Karen McConnaughay and the ongoing friction between McConnaughay and Lauzen's supporters and associates. McConnaughay is not seeking another term, but she instead is running for the newly created 33rd District in the Illinois State Senate.
"All they care about is Karen McConnaughay, and with her leaving, they have nobody else left to put their dysfunction on," Klinkhamer said. "That is the way it truly is. I'm a woman and a Democrat, and in that group's eyes, that is two strikes against me. I'm not getting in the mud with these people."
Lauzen said he did not ask Martinez to run, and Lauzen said he supports Russell for coroner.
"That is not true – what Sue said is just made up," Lauzen said. "There is no question that I support the entire Republican ticket. … But I am very grateful for everybody's support."
Martinez acknowledged that referring to Klinkhamer as a "nice lady" can be interpreted as dismissive of women's accomplishments – but he said that is not how he meant it.
"What I mean by 'nice' is my experiences with her, she has always been nice to me," Martinez said. "She is nice … [but] Mr. Lauzen has represented himself and our state in a nice manner. … He was the only person who raised my respect in order to issue an endorsement."