SPRINGFIELD – A crop of Republican officials who wanted to oust former Illinois GOP Chairman Pat Brady for his statements supporting same-sex marriage have been replaced in their party positions.
Illinois Republicans across the state held elections for all 18 state central committee member posts this week, replacing six of the seven officials who signed on to a letter last year to hold a vote on removing Brady as chairman. The seventh person to sign the letter, Mark Shaw of the 10th Congressional District, was re-elected to a four-year term.
Brady began making public statements in January 2013 in support of same-sex marriage, contrary to the party’s platform that defines marriage as between one man and one woman. Committee members in favor of his removal said he not only violated the platform, but commented without notifying them first.
Brady, in turn, described the party as “on wrong side of history.”
He resigned from the chairman’s post last May, citing his wife’s battle with cancer and his desire to focus on his family after four years as chairman and two as a Republican National Committee member. He was succeeded by current chairman Jack Dorgan of Rosemont last June.
The ideological shifts in the party’s organizational structure come as Republicans in Illinois and nationally are working to expand and attract women and minority voters.
In all, only seven of 18 committeemen were re-elected to new four-year terms.
“There were some people that have moved on that were great, and then there were others that were absolutely destructive and were not good for the party and they’re gone,” said Brady, who is no longer a member of the committee. “All in all, it was a good night, [bringing in] a lot of new blood.”
Some new party officials have already said they feel that social views should take a back seat to get-out-the-vote efforts ahead of November elections that include a serious challenge to Gov. Pat Quinn by Republican Bruce Rauner.
New 8th District committeeman Ryan Higgins of Schaumburg told The Associated Press that “there’s room to disagree on those issues. In my role at the state party level, I don’t want my opinion to be known.”
Higgins, who unsuccessfully ran for state representative in 2010, said he supported civil union legislation on several newspaper questionnaires then.
“The leaders we selected today will help guide our party forward, hold Gov. Quinn accountable for his failures, and elect Republicans up and down the ticket,” Dorgan said in a statement.