Outgoing GOP chief Pat Brady warns party leaders: ‘It’s not 1980 anymore’
BY NATASHA KORECKI Political Reporter/@natashakorecki May 7, 2013 8:10PM
In this Nov. 9, 2009 file photo, Illinois Republican Chairman Pat Brady speaks at a news conference in Chicago. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh, File)
Updated: June 9, 2013 6:42AM
With Illinois GOP Chairman Pat Brady on his way out the door, the next person to lead the state Republican party will have to glue together the fractured pieces of a bloodied and bruised party that’s allowed social issues to polarize its members.
Just how difficult a task that will be depends on whom you ask, though both moderate and conservative Republicans insist they support a “big tent” that includes a diversity of beliefs.
Brady announced he was stepping down on Tuesday, after twice surviving his ouster by conservative Republicans who were outraged when he came out in favor of gay marriage. His critics said as party chairman, he should not have voiced a personal stance conflicting with the party platform.
“I think we are undergoing a vital discussion that is going to set the course for the party in Illinois for the next decade or two,” said Steve Daglas, a GOP state central committeeman.
“I think it is very important to be inclusive. I think it’s important to convey messages that appeal to people of all genders and creeds and colors. It doesn’t matter what color or what your sexual orientation is when you’re concerned about keeping a roof over your head. Those are the things that transcend the boundaries that we create … People can disagree without being disagreeable.”
State Sen. Jim Oberweis (R-Sugar Grove), the architect of the effort to push Brady out, said there was room for differing views — his neighbor on the Senate floor voted for gay marriage “and we’re still friends,” he says.
But he insists that if the next party chairman supports gay marriage — he or she should keep it quiet.
“Certainly,” says Oberweis on the next chairman being pro-gay marriage. “I think it would be clear, hopefully, to all concerned if he or she supports gay marriage, that’s a private consideration. When addressing public issues, he or she will address issues that are supported in the party platform.”
On Sunday, nominations closed within the committee for Brady’s successor. Some of the names include Cook County Commissioner Tim Schneider, state Rep. Ron Sandack, onetime Cook County State’s Attorney candidate Lori Yokoyama, Darlene Ruscitti with the DuPage Regional Office of Education and Republican National Committee Secretary Demetra DeMonte.
For his part, Brady said he has no regrets over his remarks in support of gay marriage.
“Absolutely not,” Brady said. “I believe 100 percent in my position on that issue, as does Sen. [Mark] Kirk.”
As for the future of the party, Brady said he still believes there’s a bright one for Republicans but said members should hammer Democrats on fiscal issues and not get entangled in disputes over social issues.
He also said there should be more deference for elected Republican leaders.
“We need to change the way things are done. It’s almost like two parallel tracks, the elected leadership that’s good and strong, and this party apparatus that I’ve been dealing with that’s not in sync with what’s going on,” Brady said. “The political leadership has to recognize it’s not 1980 anymore.”
Who should take the helm, in Brady’s view?
“I think it’s time we need to put a different face on the party. I’d like to see a woman do it,” Brady said, noting it could boost Republican chances with suburban women. Illinois Comptroller Judy Baar Topinka did once serve as GOP state party chair.
Brady said there are elected Republican women throughout the state who would be a good fit.