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Illinois GOP Chairman Resigns After Supporting Gay Marriage

Pat Brady, the chairman of the Illinois Republican Party, announced his resignation Tuesday amid a simmering controversy over his support for gay marriage legislation.

By Rick Pearson

Pat Brady, the chairman of the Illinois Republican Party, announced his resignation Tuesday amid a simmering controversy over his support for gay marriage legislation.

Brady had been expected to drop out of the lead GOP role following a tumultuous period that pitted the Republicans' social moderates against their social conservatives.

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With same-sex marriage legislation pending in the Illinois legislature, Brady this year voiced his support for the proposal despite a plank in the state GOP platform that said marriage should be reserved for a man and a woman. Brady said he made the endorsement personally, not as Republican chairman, but conservatives in the top echelon of the GOP party quickly complained.

Though Brady survived immediate attempts to dump him, a meeting of the Republican State Central Committee in Tinley Park last month made clear his fate. GOP leaders agreed to put together a succession plan, allowing Brady, of St. Charles, an exit strategy that made clear his days were numbered as they began a search for a new chairman.

State Sen. Matt Murphy of Palatine had been talked about as Brady's replacement. An unsuccessful candidate for lieutenant governor in 2010 and a potential statewide candidate in 2014, Murphy said Monday night he had dropped out of the running for GOP chairman. If Murphy has statewide interests next year, holding the top party post would have posed a conflict of interest.

In an e-mail to Committeeman Mike Bigger, secretary of the state central committee, Brady touted the GOP's successes in the 2010 elections -- including victories for state treasurer and comptroller and several congressional seats. But a new map drawn by Illinois' controlling Democrats wiped out those congressional gains in the 2012 election as home state Democratic President Barack Obama easily won here.

In stepping down, Brady thanked U.S. Sen. Mark Kirk, the Republican who won Obama's former Senate seat in 2010, and other GOP leaders in the state for their support in a blue state. He also thanked his wife, Julie, who has a serious illness, for her support.

Brady's resignation marks the latest trouble for a political party that had held Illinois' governorship for nearly a quarter century until then-Gov. George Ryan's tenure as secretary of state led to indictment and imprisonment. Though Ryan's successor, Democrat Rod Blagojevich, suffered the same fate, Gov. Pat Quinn survived a close 2010 vote against conservative Republican nominee state Sen. Bill Brady of Bloomington. Sen. Brady is no relation to Pat Brady.

After the November 2012 losses, which also handed Democrats veto-proof majorities in the Illinois House and Senate, Pat Brady argued Republicans needed to be more inclusive.

"It's about addition and not subtraction," Brady said of the differing viewpoints within the GOP, "and if we come off as mean-spirited or angry or too dogmatic, then we don't attract people to the party."

Under the state GOP party rules, Carol Donovan of Chicago, the current vice chair, will serve as interim chairman.

The decision ends Brady's three-plus years as party chairman, a post he took over after predecessor Andy McKenna Jr. offered his surprise resignation in August 2009 to mount an ill-fated run for governor.

(c)2013 Chicago Tribune

Brian Peteritas is a GOVERNING contributor.
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