Gay Marriage Flap Could Cost Ill. GOP Chair His Job
By Alex Keefe
Just weeks after the head of the Illinois Republican Party announced his support for same-sex marriage legislation, some state party bosses are moving forward with plans to oust the state GOP leader, the party chairman said Friday afternoon.
Accoring to Chicago Public Radio (WBEZ), Chairman Pat Brady said he received a phone call Friday afternoon informing him that party bosses are calling a special meeting at which they’ll discuss why Brady publicly bucked the party line on same-sex marriage, as well as other issues such as fundraising, Brady said.
Brady said the March 9 special meeting will only reinforce a negative image of the GOP as a party of “old white guys,” though he said he’ll respect the process.
The special meeting comes after weeks of false starts as Brady’s critics couldn’t organize to gather the required five signatures from state central commissioners to call a special meeting. State Central Committeemen Jerry Clarke, from Urbana, has been working behind the scenes to organize the meeting, according to several party bosses.
“The proposed agenda includes the financial status of the state central committee and plans to enhance the leadership image and appeal of the Republican Party of Illinois as we head into the critical 2014 elections,” the letter reads, according to committeemen familiar with the document.
Clarke has not returned numerous phone calls from WBEZ.
A handful of GOP bosses have been calling for Brady’s resignation since he came out in favor of same-sex marriage via a public statement in January. Committeemen bristled at the fact that Brady took a public position contrary to the party’s platform, and didn’t notify any of them beforehand.
Brady’s ouster would require the weighted vote of three-fifths of the state central committee. The votes are weighted differently based on turnout in the March primary.
Committeeman Jim Oberweis, a state senator, said there are enough votes to fire Brady.
“We’d have exactly the same reaction if suddenly Pat decided to talk about the merits of Obamacare,” Oberweis told WBEZ Friday.
Brady has said his position on gay marriage is personal, and that he wasn’t speaking on behalf of the party when he made his original statement. He’s since refused to step down.
But that didn’t hold much water with state central committee members like Bobbie Peterson, from Beecher, Ill., who has repeatedly called for Brady’s resignation.
“Nobody crowned him king,” Peterson, who helped call the special meeting, told WBEZ Friday. “He’s working for the state central committeemen.”
While there are a group of party leaders bent on firing Brady, some say they want to hold a special meeting to hear Brady’s explanation of why he publicly went rogue and contradicted the party’s stance on same-sex marriage, at a time when Illinois Republicans would prefer to focus on fiscal issues. Some also have concerns about Brady’s ability to raise money for the party, and the GOP’s dismal showing in November elections.
“I’m gonna sit and listen to those grumblings,” said committeemen Mark Shaw, from Lake Forest. “Depending on what he says, that’ll inform my decision on how I’m gonna vote.”