TINLEY PARK - The Illinois Republican Party's State Central Committee (SCC) decided Saturday to work on a succession plan for the party's leadership and allow the embattled State Party Chairman Pat Brady to stay in place.
Brady said he would not run for re-election in the spring primary and told reporters he was confident the SCC's decision would "put the matter to bed."
Brady came under fire when he began lobbying state senators to support same sex marriage, in opposition to the state party's platform that specifically upholds the definition of marriage as between one man and one woman.
But the problems with Pat Brady's chairmanship go deeper than just his views on marriage, 42nd Ward GOP Committeeman Eloise Gerson told Illinois Review. "In 2012, he got involved in a primary challenge for my committeeman post. No Republican state party chairman should take sides in primaries," Gerson said. "He did robo calls for my opponent."
Brady also upset Republicans in Kane County when he coaxed a primary challenger to Kane County Board Chairman Chris Lauzen in 2012.
The chairman's critics were outspoken and energized Saturday, hoping to encourage the State Central Committee to oust Brady. Worth Township precinct captain Karen Hayes said it was inappropriate for the party chairman to lobby in direct opposition to the party platform. Hayes said as a state convention delegate that served on the platform committee, Brady ignoring the committee's efforts was "insulting."
Brad Baber of Will County said the party's focus now should be unity and energizing efforts based on the agreed upon party platform.
"The success we had this week in Will County stems from teamwork and unity," Baber told Illinois Review. "Until the ILGOP focuses on moving forward as a team, they'll remain a minority in Illinois."
The ILGOP SSC took three hours to determine their course of action. The decison was to take 45 to 60 days to set up a chairmanship succession plan.
That plan did not set well with meeting observers who were ushered out of the meeting after three public reports were made. First, Chairman Brady reported on the ILGOP's status, then SCC Committeeman Mike Bigger updated the group on the new Illinois Growth and Opportunity Project. Finally, Republican National Committeeman Rich Williamson reported on the RNC's decision this week to re-affirm the RNC's platform on issues such as life, Internet security, education and the definition of marriage - drawing applause from observers.
Immediately after Williamson's comments, Committeeman Jack Dorgan motioned to go into Executive Session, drawing groans among the crowd of observers. SCC member Jim Oberweis suggested the committee follow the agenda used at the previous session and allow public comments before adjourning into Executive Session. Chairman Brady overruled Oberweis' suggestion, saying the committee tried that once and wouldn't be repeating that agenda.
The observers were ushered out of the meeting room after being told by Chairman Brady the meeting would last 15 to 20 minutes. Three hours later, the observers were invited back into the SCC meeting room, but several members had left the meeting without a quorum.
During the three hour wait while the committee met, observers grew restless and irritated. Tinley Park Police were called twice when those waiting began chanting, "We have rights!". The most outspoken among the observers was former Congressional candidate Bill Kelly, who challenged Brady several times to step down from the chairmanship and to open the selection process for grassroots input.
Paul McKinley, who lost to Democrat Congresswoman Robin Kelly last Tuesday, voiced outrage with what he felt was the ILGOP's lack of support during his bid to succeed Jesse Jackson, Jr. in the heavily Democrat 2nd CD.
"They have no representatives for black folk here [on the SCC]," McKinley said. "This party will never win until they get rid of a chairman that's working for Rahm Emanuel." No definable link between Brady and Emanuel is known, however, Brady did work for the Democrat-associated Cook County State's Attorney office.
The last few IL GOP chairmen have had rocky terms of service. The party has struggled for years since losing in 2002 to Democrat Rod Blagojevich, after disgraced Governor Ryan's term ended.
Brady stepped into the chairmanship in 2009, when former chairman Andy McKenna stepped down for a 2010 GOP gubernatorial bid. McKenna followed now-State Comptroller Judy Baar Topinka, who unsuccessfully challenged Governor Rod Blagojevich in 2006.