CHAMPAIGN — There was a time when Illinois’ new treasurer-elect, Champaign Democrat Mike Frerichs, could have just as easily become a Republican.
“My sophomore year of high school, I took a civics class at Rantoul Township High School from Larry Weaver. Larry was a big influence on me. He was very supportive. I really looked up to the man,” Frerichs recalled recently. “Larry was very involved in politics at the time. I didn’t call him Larry then.
“But Mr. Weaver made it very clear that his stripes were of the Republican variety. In the civics class, you had to do something civically minded. I think I went out in 1988 and distributed George H.W. Bush literature with Mr. Weaver.”
Weaver, now retired after teaching 32 years at RTHS, recalled the day that Frerichs, after he had graduated from Yale and taught English in Taiwan, came to his house to tell him he was considering a career in politics.
“I am fairly conservative, and Mike came from a fairly conservative family, but when I asked him what party and he said, ‘Democrat,’ I just said, ‘Well, I forgive you,’ ” Weaver said. “What had happened was that he had his eye on the Legislature, and (former state Rep.) Tim Johnson had the job. So if he was going to get into the Legislature, he couldn’t do it as a Republican.
“And of course he’s done well in the Democratic Party, and I’m impressed with him, to be sure.”
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