Oberweis Wants to Oust State GOP Chair

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Byline: Kerry Lester Political Editor klester@dailyherald.com By Kerry Lester Political Editor klester@dailyherald.com

A newly elected suburban state senator is rounding up fellow Illinois Republican officials to try to oust the chair of the beleaguered party over his support for legalizing same-sex marriage.

Sugar Grove dairy magnate and state Sen. Jim Oberweis emailed several fellow state central committeemen several days ago about organizing a special meeting to remove Illinois GOP chairman Pat Brady of St. Charles, the Daily Herald has learned. Brady is under fire for recent statements he made supporting same-sex marriage.

According to party rules, a special meeting can be called if at least five of the 18 state central committeemen request it.

Oberweis said he emailed "six or seven" committeemen, and several expressed their support for a special meeting. Oberweis said he has yet to see "five hands go up."

Oberweis said Brady should be removed to get past this issue and added the state needs to focus on financial problems.

"All of my time is now being spent responding to emails on social issues," he said. "I don't think those are the most pressing issues we should be dealing with."

The public clash between the conservative and moderate wings of the Illinois GOP comes as the party is working to win several key upcoming elections in a traditionally blue state.

Brady, through a statement and calls to lawmakers earlier this month, voiced his full support of same-sex marriage legislation being considered by the General Assembly. Brady said he did so as a private citizen, and not in his capacity as party chairman.

Both 6th District Committeeman Chris Kachiroubas, of Elmhurst, and 8th District Committeeman Gene Dawson, of Barrington, received Oberweis's email and favor a special meeting to try to oust Brady.

"I emailed back right away, and said, 'I'm in,'" Dawson said.

"When you're an elected official you're giving up your individuality," Dawson said of Brady's statements, which are contrary to the party platform that defines marriage as between one man and one woman.

In Illinois, a party chair can be ousted with a three-fifths majority weighted vote from state party committeemen. Committeemen's votes are weighted by how many voters in each congressional district cast ballots in the previous primary, giving the most politically active districts the most power.

For now, at least four committeemen are in favor of Brady's removal. Several other committeemen, as well as Demetra Demonte, the Republican Party's national committeewoman from Illinois, did not return calls seeking comment.

The next regular election for state party chairman will take place in spring 2014.

Brady said Wednesday he understands some party officials are upset with him for not speaking with committeemen about his views before he made his statements.

"It could have been rolled out better, no doubt," he said.

Brady said he has spoken to a number of committeemen in recent weeks. …