Though the chair of Saturday’s committee that selected Camille Lilly 78th District state rep maintains that the appointment process was open and transparent, one of the losing candidates for the post believes the decision was already a done deal.

Committeemen heard brief statements from the candidates and then asked each applicant how they would vote on certain legislation currently under consideration in the Illinois House. But the committee’s decision to jump into the vote immediately after the interviews concluded had one candidate wondering how serious the group took the process.

“The deal was done before the process was rolled out,” said Rev. Marshall Hatch, one of the seven applicants, after Saturday’s vote. “Even when the fix was in the works and I was at a disadvantage, I still fell like I lost something today.”

Harmon said he believes all the candidates had lobbied committeemen before the meeting, and that’s why they voted for Lilly. After the session adjourned, Harmon maintained that the process worked.

“In the end, the decision was unanimous, but it was a well-thought-out and carefully made decision,” he said.

Harmon asked Hatch, pastor of New Mt. Pilgrim Baptist Church, how he’d vote on a same-sex civil unions bill. Hatch said he believed in “equality for all,” causing Harmon to reply: “I’m counting votes-will you be able to vote for the bill?”

“Well, if you vote for me,” said Hatch.

“I see you’re counting votes, too,” replied Harmon.

Committeeman and former Chicago alderman William J.P. Banks inquired about the candidates’ political aspirations. He asked if each planned on running in the general election if they failed to win the appointment. Only Ted Leverenz, a former state legislator, said yes.

In casting the proxy vote for Tom Cargie, who was absent, Harmon told fellow members that he had some “latitude” concerning Cargie’s choice if a committeeman called for a motion of unanimous vote-Banks quickly called for the motion, which was then approved.

With the interviews completed, Harmon suggested a five-minute break for the committeemen to deliberate. Banks instead called for a motion to vote on the appointment, a move that Harmon admits surprised him. “Often time, you’ll see the committee want to take a pow-wow and talk to each other before taking a vote,” he said. “Obviously, that wasn’t the case.”

-Hunter Clauss,