House GOP Will Meet To Pick A Leader

Aug 27, 2013

Republican members of the Illinois House of Representatives will meet Thursday to try to select a replacement for GOP Leader Tom Cross, who announced last week that he will be stepping down. He's expected to run for State Treasurer instead.

State Rep. Tom Cross

Seventeen House Republicans who signed a letter officially scheduling the meeting say there's no time to waste in replacing him.

The letter says the House Republican's fundraising arm is in "dire financial straits" ... and that shoring up funds ahead of next year's election will be difficult until a new leader is in place.

Though the letter thanks Cross for his service, it says the House Republican fundraising operation -- which had been headed by Cross -- is in "dire financial straits."

Whether Republicans will be able to coalesce around a single candidate remains to be seen. There may well be a suburban/downstate divide when it's time to vote.

Supporters of Rep. Jim Durkin of Western Springs say he has the necessary votes, but legislators from downstate may instead favor Springfield Rep. Raymond Poe.

Also in the running is Rep. Dwight Kay, of Glen Carbon, who was not a signatory to the letter. He says choosing a new leader should happen sooner, rather than later.

"If we put this off a month, or we put it off longer than a month, we have some very serious practical matters in terms of operating a party, and I don't think any of us want that."
                                                                                                              -- State Rep. Dwight Kay, R-Glen Carbon

Republicans are in the super-minority in the House: They have 47 members to Democrats' 71. The GOP also has a super-minority in the Senate. The letter says electing a new leader is key to turning that around.

To win this potentially tight race for leader, a Republican needs 24 votes.

Illinois Public Radio Bureau Chief Amanda Vinicky contributed to this report.