UPDATE POLL RESULTS:
Angel Garcia 18.37%
Matt Murphy 15.65%
Jim Oberwies 15.65% ALL WRITE-IN VOTES
Roger Claar 8.16%
Mark Shaw 3.40%
Don Tracy 2.72%
Carol Donovan 2.04%
Other write-in names included: Ron Sandack, Joe Walsh, Dan Proft, Adam Andrezjewski, Jack Roeser, Demetra DeMonte and Steve Rauschenberger.
LaGrange, IL— This weekend’s epic showdown between movement conservatives and more moderate elements of the Illinois Republican Party ended with a split result. Embattled Party Chairman Pat Brady remains at the helm of the State Central Committee but the committee is beginning the process of lining up a successor in the event Chairman Brady resigns or his detractors can garner enough votes to oust him while simultaneously navigating party rules to make it happen. Brady’s term runs through the 2014 primary season when a new, 18-member central committee, selected under the downsized 2011 congressional map, will organize itself and elect new officers.
It’s hard to believe, but no Illinois Republican Party Chairman has completed a full four-year term in office since at least the early 1990s. In fact, FIVE chairmen served during the term that began in 2002 and concluded in 2006. Of course, since 1997 or so, the Democrats have had only one chairman.
Some party activists are calling for the State Central Committee to choose its next chairman (assuming Brady leaves on his own or with assistance) in the same way it chose a successor to Judy Baar Topinka in 2005 – an open casting call featuring public speeches from potential candidates. While the committee selected Andy McKenna, Jim Oberweis and Jim Nalepa also made pitches to a packed room of central committeemen, county chairmen, various conservative leaders.
Leaving the selection process to the central committeemen, let’s take a quick look at a few people we believe may emerge as potential chairmen – of the beleaguered Illinois Republican Party. In alphabetical order…:
Bolingbrook Mayor Roger Claar is the central committeeman from the former 13th Congressional District that previously sent Judy Biggert to Congress for more than a decade. The district’s former boundaries take in a substantial number of Republican voters in southern DuPage, Cook, and Northern Will Counties allowing Mayor Claar to cast a substantial weighted vote on the central committee. As a successful suburban mayor in a very diverse community, Claar could help promote the party among like-minded, but not necessarily Republican activist mayors and local elected officials – potentially developing a new farm team of legislative candidates. Claar also has a substantial campaign fund and could offer the party some much-needed financial assistance in the short run.
As Vice-Chairman, Carol Smith Donovan would serve as interim party chairman in the event of a Brady departure between central committee meetings or in the event the committee could not agree on a permanent replacement. Donovan has been a fixture in the leadership of the state party since 2002 when late central committeeman Steve Meyer selected her as his deputy and succeeding to his post upon his death in 2005. Donovan was a candidate for National Committeewoman in 2008 and narrowly lost a key vote in the State Convention’s Nominating Committee to Demetra Demonte.
Attorney Angel Garcia is serving in his first term as the Central Committeeman from the 3rd Congressional District. Garcia took over a troubled Chicago Young Republican Organization and has steadily rebuilt the club to its former status as one of the top local YR organizations in the country. He was the Cook County GOP’s sacrificial lamb candidate for County Clerk in 2010 and has worked on numerous local, state, and national campaigns. Garcia is an occasional commentator on Republican issues for NBC Telemundo and is Chairman of the Republican National Hispanic Assembly of Cook County. Garcia is an appealing candidate and brings both youth and diversity to the table, however, the ongoing schism between rival Hispanic GOP organizations could be a distraction. Like Claar and Donovan, Garcia will play a role in the election of a new party chairman regardless of whether he is a candidate.
After the Central Committee concluded its meeting Saturday, many media reports suggested that the party was looking for Matt Murphy or someone like him to succeed Brady. It’s not hard to see why. Murphy is an articulate and energetic conservative leader who has been very successful in appealing to northwest suburban voters. But for a relatively small number of votes, he would have been the GOP’s nominee for Lt. Governor in 2010 and provided much needed regional balance to the top of the ticket. In fact, we dare say what had Murphy been the LG nominee, we’d be asking about his banjo playing abilities today instead of Shelia Simon.
But we digress. Murphy became Second of Nineteen in the Illinois Senate Republican Caucus this year – which presumably carries with it some responsibility of increasing the number of Senate GOPers into the low 20s. Serving as Party Chairman could assist him in his political duties as Deputy Republican Leader, but could also draw the ire of House Republicans who might perceive a potential conflict of interest. 15 years ago, Senate President Pate Philip temporarily blocked House Republican Leader Lee Daniels from becoming Chairman citing similar concerns. Would today’s House Republicans feel the same?
Though a member of the central committee, Mark Shaw’s involvement in the Republican Party is a little less extensive than others on this list. Still, Shaw is very active in his community, having served as Lake Forest Plan Commissioner, Lake County Teen Court Board Member and Judge, Kiley Center Human Rights Commissioner, Lake Forest Caucus Executive Committee Member, Lake Forest/Lake Bluff Lions Club Member, Lake Forest Open Lands Association Member, Lake Forest Cub Scouts Cub Master, and Lake Forest AYSO Assistant Coach. An attorney and pharmacist, Shaw was the Republican nominee for State Representative in the 58th District in 2012, losing to Democrat Scott Drury who seems to be doing everything he can to invite a rematch and/or a primary challenge. Shaw remains the best shot to attempt to wrest the 58th from the Dems and may opt to try again.
Springfield attorney and former Lt. Governor candidate. He is part of a legendary law firm, Brown, Hay & Stephens, LLP in Springfield that once counted Abraham Lincoln among its ranks.