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Conspiracy or Coincidence?

Jerome “Jerry” Clarke is prepared for every eventuality.

Earlier this month, the chief of staff for Rep. Randy Hultgren (R-Ill.) announced he would be running for the seat of Rep. Timothy Johnson (R-Ill.). Clarke was a top Johnson aide from 2001 to 2011. Johnson announced his retirement just two weeks after winning the primary in his district.

Conspiracy theorists whispered it was a nefarious plot to force the GOP establishment to pass the nomination directly from Johnson to Clarke.

According to the blog “Chicago Now,” Clarke claimed he was as surprised as everyone else by his former boss calling it quits.

Surprised or not, he very quickly announced he would make a play for the seat. Clarke launched his campaign website and gave himself the catchphrase: “I’m ready to serve.”

The “Chicago Now” blogger, Warner Todd Huston, was unimpressed by Clarke’s claims of surprise.

The blogger did a quick search on GoDaddy, where Clarke’s campaign site is registered, and learned that the site was registered at 12:21 p.m. on Feb. 12 — two whole months before Johnson announced his plans to retire.

Calls and emails to Clarke and to Hultgren’s and Johnson’s offices were not returned.

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