The House Republican Organization has announced it will withdraw its support of state Rep. Jerry Long, R-Streator, in his bid for re-election.
The GOP organization also is asking Long to step down from his position after a complaint was lodged regarding verbal and physical harassment, but Long appears to be willing to continue his term from a statement he issued Thursday.
Long is facing Democratic challenger Lance Yednock for the 76th District House seat. The seat, once long held by Democrat Frank Mautino, is considered a battleground for the two parties. Long defeated Andy Skoog, who succeeded Mautino, in November 2016 with 50.6 percent of the vote.
"Over Labor Day weekend, the House Republican Organization was made aware of allegations into Rep. Long’s behavior," said Eleni Demertzis, Office of the House Republican Leader Jim Durkin in a press statement.
"We immediately brought in a third party firm to investigate these allegations, and upon completion of their report on Sept. 12, a decision was made to withdraw support of Rep. Long’s campaign, restrict access to all caucus resources and recommend he step down from his position."
At the request of the complainant for privacy, Demertzis said there is no other information the House Republican Organization can release at this time.
"The House Republican caucus and organization has a zero tolerance policy on harassment of any kind," Demertzis said.
Long responded with a statement via text message: "This charge of a hostile work environment against me (harassment) proves that I do not capitulate to the 'good ole boys' club in Springfield. The Republican Party has not been cooperative for the last couple of months. I'm an independent who is watching out for the taxpayers of Illinois. This also proves that I'm not a puppet of any party."
The complainant issued a statement Friday morning.
"Rep. Long's denial of his actions and behavior are troubling and disappointing.
"While there was an incident of physical harassment, the verbal abuse and abuse of power on a daily basis resulted in a hostile work environment that put anyone around him at risk.
"It is my sincere hope that Rep. Long resigns from his position and gets the help that he needs."
Long told WCMY 1430 radio in Ottawa that "he can be demanding," due to the nature of the campaign being high pressure and high paced. When mentioned he was "an abusive boss," Long said he was a "demanding boss."
If Long resigns or drops out of the race, the ballot vacancy for the November election must be filled within eight days. The party can replace a candidate that drops out up to 16 days before an election, according to Matt Dietrich, Public Information Officer for the Illinois State Board of Elections.
In July, Long appeared with Gov. Bruce Rauner in Ottawa to sign the “People’s Pledge,” which is term-limit pledges the governor is advocating for in his campaign.