* Rep. Durkin wrapped this up faster than just about anyone figured only a few weeks ago…
Durkin said he had 32 votes going into a closed-door caucus. He only needed 24 to win the job.
Poe, conceding his candidacy fell short of support, said he nominated Durkin and declared, like many of his peers emerging from the meeting, that the House GOP troops now are united.
* Durkin was elected by a vote of acclamation…
(W)hen Durkin walked out of it the victor — beaming — Poe was by his side. Poe joked that he’s Durkin’s bodyguard; but he had, in a sense, protected him.
When it became clear Poe didn’t have the votes to clinch a win, he not only took his name out of the running, he was the one to nominate Durkin, for a vote by acclimation. “I think the whole message of the day is: we’re coming out of that room as we’re 47 strong,” Poe says. “And Jim’s our new leader and we’re going to elect more representatives and we’re going to elect a Republican governor. And guess what? The things that are important to Republicans, we’re going to be able to carry those out under Jim’s leadership.”
Durkin — still unable to stop smiling — and was equally complimentary of Poe: “Without getting into specifics, Raymond, uh, his point was that we’re a unified party today,” Leader-Elect Durkin says. “We are more unified today than we have been in a long time. And I can thank Raymond for that. We have a lot of … we have a very diverse caucus, but we’re going to use that diversity to our advantage .”
* Easier said than done…
Durkin, 52, replaces outgoing caucus leader Tom Cross, who told members last week he is planning to run for treasurer. Cross held the leadership position for a decade, and came under recent fire from members following a loss of seats last November and a caucus campaign fund that stood at $21,030 in June fundraising reports.
“The positive thing that comes out of here today is that it was a unanimous vote,” Durkin said, following his election as leader. “We’re going to use that energy to move forward and win races.”
* And he’s taking a wait and see attitude on pension reform…
He wouldn’t endorse any particular proposal Thursday.
“I want to see what the product is first,” Durkin said. “This is one of many extremely important issues this caucus is going to have to discuss.”
* Rep. Durkin represents half of Senate Republican Christine Radogno’s district, and her public statement was laudatory…
“I have offered my congratulations to Rep. Durkin. I look forward to continuing our work together. We have proven to be an effective team for our constituents. Jim is thoughtful, pragmatic and extremely well versed in the issues of importance to Illinois citizens. I know he is particularly interested in working together with our Caucus to improve the state’s fiscal condition and jobs climate. He shares my view that a comprehensive solution to our pension crisis is critical to those efforts. I congratulate the House Republican Caucus on their choice and warmly welcome Jim.”
* The technicalities…
There’s no set deadline for when [Leader Cross will] step down, though the transition is expected to take a few weeks. Even then, the full House will have to take a formal vote when it next convenes in order to make it official. As that happens, Durkin will take on the perks of leadership: higher pay, extra staff, a bigger office
* The first real bright spot for Kirk Dillard in a while…
In next year’s governor primary, Durkin backs Sen. Kirk Dillard, a Hinsdale Republican who lost the 2010 primary by 193 votes.
…Adding… This was my advice to Durkin in comments yesterday…
First, heal the wounds. Cross’ search for another office has opened up some deep divisions in your caucus. Those divisions need to be repaired.
No need for retaliation. You won a majority in a matter of a few days and balloting lasted less than an hour. It’s obvious you have the support of a majority, so throw a bone or two to some folks in the opposition.
You have some good, dedicated staffers, but some new blood is absolutely necessary, at the top and at the bottom. Prune the tree carefully, but do prune it.
Before this election, you had a reputation among some members as being aloof and a bit of a jerk. You overcame that today. Don’t go back to that behavior. Keep an open mind and an open door. You don’t have to agree with a member, but be respectful.
Your caucus is obviously deeply split on the pension issue. Urge compromise. Don’t be bullied by Ty Fahner or the Tribune.
Speaking of Fahner, he’s toxic. Put some distance between him and you.
And speaking of the Trib, try to understand that getting a favorable Tribune editorial is the end, not a means. That paper’s influence is declining rapidly.
Remember that if you want any sort of Republican stamp on a bill, you have to work with the majority. Those who want to boycott and abdicate shouldn’t be listened to. Obviously, capitulation is out of the question, but be firm with Madigan and develop a close relationship with Cullerton, which can help you in your dealings with His Royal Highness (something that Cross never understood, but Daniels did with Rock).
Work harder than you ever have and expect the same from your leaders and your staff.
And, whatever you do, never put bananas in the refrigerator.
…Adding More… Video of the post-game press conference…