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A huge win amid hopes for unity

Friday, Aug 30, 2013

* 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

- Posted by Rich Miller        

  1. - Keep Calm and Carry On - Friday, Aug 30, 13 @ 10:13 am:

    Durkin is smart, capable and will be successful.

    Classy, classy move by Poe.

  2. - None of the Above - Friday, Aug 30, 13 @ 10:28 am:

    Difficult to believe that Ty Fahner is still relevant to the Illinois Republican Party… in any capacity.

  3. - DanL60 - Friday, Aug 30, 13 @ 10:46 am:

    ==Difficult to believe that Ty Fahner is still relevant to the Illinois Republican Party… in any capacity.==

    Water churner. Guys like him are convincing Republicans like me a graduated state income tax is a good idea. Let’s set his at 95%.

  4. - Oswego Willy - Friday, Aug 30, 13 @ 11:45 am:

    This is how you begin.

    What is exciting for me, is the fact that Rayomnd Poe and Jim Durkin, with 20 years of friendship and mutual respect, can come out of a meeting that had all the makings of a battle royale, pitting two really good members against each other at the peril of what the future may bring to them all.

    Leader-elect Durkin touched on all the points I had hoped to hear, wether it came from him or Rep. Poe. There needs to be a sense of urgency, and a sence of motivation for the members themselves to want to get beyond irrelevency.

    Jim Durkin could have slammed Tom Cross as well. the questions of the monies in HRO, focus on 2014, whatever angle the questions had in their presentation, they also had the opening to slam Tom Cross. Jim refused to take that bait, giving, publically, a wide berth for Tom Cross to …”wind down” … but to wind down all the same. Good move by Durkin, and shows the unity by not just throwing Cross out, and Cross not hanging on until someone asks for Cross’ keys.

    There needs to be significant political changes in the HGOP political aparatus. This is not a new revelation, but I feel the need to go down this road for two reasons. One, to remind Jim Durkin that change in the person occupying the Leader seat does not mean the culture has changed, You need to shake it up, get quality Political Staff, and get them in Place. Second,it is to put everyone on notice. Not current staff, or the Caucus, but MJM, the HDems, detractors to what needs to be done. Durkin needs to put them all on notice, “This is not the old HRO. We are all here to win, I am bringing in people to help me win, and nothing is guaranteed to anyone, including tomorrow, so HDems, MJM, we are coming, and we are not going to be taken lightly.”

    Smart move not to name anyone to Leadership, or go over setup of even a “HRO” operation, which I am sure Durkin will change as others have in the past. The structural aparatus, right now, is your Number 1 priority, and putting the best talent in that aparatus, be it the legislators in House Leadership, to Staffing of the Political arm, get the aparatus you think will be successful, Durkin, and do the job.

    Finally, this can not be overstated. There seems to als be a sense of relief that Tom Cross is gone as Leader, and a sense of Optimisim lacking before under Tom Cross that is now back in the Caucus Room. Changing the air in the room is going to do wonders to the motivation of all; Members, Candidates, Staff, the ILGOP, everyone thirsting for the opportunity to see the HGOP be relevent to the discussion of Governance and to Politics in Illinois. Tom Cross lost that when the HGOP was Veto-Proofed, and the Caucus was reminded of there irrelevence every day they sat in Springfield. Jim durkin brings a “hope” that Tom Cross finally lost with the Attorney General flirtations, and with the sense that Tom Cross was just “done” with the HGOP.

    Raymond Poe stated he has no interest in HGOP Leadership, but I hope many, especially Jim Durkin turn to Rep. Poe for his institutional knowledge and his knowledge of “Springfield” every bit of what that means. If Jim Durkin wants to embrace the “diversity” as he said, even in that video, embrace what Rep. Poe’s take is on issues, with Springfield wrapped in Poe’s take.

    Congratulations, Leader-Elect Durkin, and congratulations to Raymond Poe for being the CLASS act you are, and understanding that its not about you, or Jim Durkin, but about the HGOP and thiings even greater than that. I hope Leader-Elect Durkin never forgets that too, that while the Victor today, we all need to work together, the Caucus, the ILGOP, the rank and file, and Dopes like me. Then we have a chance once again.

    Thanks to you both.

    p.s. Leader-Elect Durkin, I will be watching carefully and using my 3 Principles to track your progress. Today its bouquets from us all, tomorrow the hard work begins, and we are all counting on you. OW.

  5. - A guy... - Friday, Aug 30, 13 @ 11:52 am:

    If it was possible to sign on to this letter, I would.

  6. - Lou - Friday, Aug 30, 13 @ 1:26 pm:

    I’m uncomfortable with all four legislative leaders coming from Cook County. Just one more step in making the other 101 counties irrelevant.

Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.

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