Rep. Keith Sommer resigns early; Hauter likely to step in
Republican state Rep. Keith Sommer of Morton has submitted his resignation, weeks before the end of his term.
The move appears to pave the way for Illinois Rep.-elect Bill Hauter to be sworn in before the spring session begins. That would give him seniority over his freshman colleagues and position him to get committee assignments sooner.
“It’s a very considerate thing to do,” Hauter said of Sommer’s resignation. “It just gives me a little leg up.”
Hauter did not say how many terms he plans to seek in the legislature, but said he does not intend to become a “career politician.”
Hauter, an emergency room physician from Morton, said that would also give him a chance to vote during the lame duck session in January.
Sommer has served in the state legislature since 1999. His resignation takes effect Dec. 31. He did not seek re-election after serving six terms.
Sommer did not respond to multiple messages seeking comment.
Hauter’s appointment is not automatic. Republican party chairs in McLean and Tazewell counties will decide on the short-term appointment.
Tazewell County Republican Party Chair Jim Rule said it's important the party fill the seat before lawmakers consider changes to the criminal justice reform law known as the SAFE-T Act or other issues in early January.
“There’s a lot that’s going to be going on during the lame duck session and while we are still in the (super minority), we still have a voice. It’s important that the people of the 88th legislative district are heard,” Rule said.
The Illinois House 88th District includes much of Tazewell and much of western McLean County. The 87th district that Hauter won spans mostly rural parts of six counties between Bloomington-Normal, Peoria, Springfield and Decatur.
Hauter ran unopposed in the general election after he defeated Tazewell County Treasurer Mary Burress in the GOP primary in June.
Rule is accepting resumes to fill the vacancy through Dec. 20. He said the party leaders plan to make the appointment Dec. 22.