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Transitions: Baise, Denzler, Demmer, DeWitte, Mazzochi

Monday, Jul 16, 2018

* The end of an era

The influential longtime leader of the Illinois Manufacturers’ Association is announcing Monday that he will retire from the post, but he isn’t giving up his more than four decades of involvement in politics and government.

Gregory Baise will be succeeded Jan. 1 by Mark Denzler, the current vice president and chief operating officer.

“I’ve been a witness to great changes, economic challenges and global shifts that have been met by the men and women who belong to the IMA. Their ability to adapt and overcome in very challenging times must be commended,” Baise, 66, said in a statement.

“Throughout my career, I’ve been an active participant in public policies that affect job creation and the economy. I look forward to the next chapter where I can remain active in that arena,” he said.

* More

Baise will continue to run Xpress Professional Services, a for-profit subsidiary of IMA that performs direct mail, TV ad production and other chores for political candidates, and which operates the well-known We Ask America polling operation.

Baise, 66, will be succeeded by IMA Vice President and COO Mark Denzler, who will run the organization day to day, take over its lobbying operation and lead the group’s political action committee, which in some cycles contributes hundreds of thousands of dollars to state candidates. […]

Along with a few other figures such as Ron Gidwitz (now the U.S. ambassador to Belgium) and former Illinois Retail Merchants Association chief Dave Vite, Baise was a holdover from the days when fiscally conservative but socially moderate Republicans in the Thompson mold ran the Illinois GOP.

Greg has been a friend of mine for many, many years. I use We Ask America’s polls, so I’m a bit conflicted with my opinions, but I have nothing but respect for the man. We’ve had our arguments, but the guy is a true gentleman. Denzler has some big shoes to fill, but he’s been gradually taking over Baise’s responsibilities for several years. He’ll do fine.

* On to the next one. From a press release…

State Representative Tom Demmer (R-Dixon) has been appointed to the post of Deputy House Minority Leader today, earning him a #2 spot in the House Republican Caucus. This recognition follows a Spring Session that saw Demmer lead the charge on enacting both a new Hospital Assessment Program on behalf of his caucus as well as successfully negotiating a bipartisan, historic State Budget agreement which resulted in “No New Taxes” and provides stability to state finances.

Demmer is serving in his third two-year term in the Illinois House, where he has quickly gained a reputation as one of the most knowledgeable and thoughtful legislators in the House Republican caucus. Rep. Demmer’s appointment was announced by House Minority Leader Jim Durkin on Monday, “It is an honor to have Tom Demmer serve as our next Deputy Minority Leader in the House Republican caucus,” Leader Durkin said. “In his time as a legislator, Tom has become a leading voice for our caucus and a fighter for our Republican principles in Illinois. He was instrumental in passing our state’s first balanced budget in decades earlier this year and I look forward to working with him in getting more important reforms passed for Illinois.”

Demmer is the Director of Innovation & Strategy at KSB Hospital in Dixon. Prior to his election to the General Assembly, he served on the Lee County Board. Demmer graduated from the University of Dayton, after having served as a White House intern in the Office of the Vice President of the United States in 2006. Demmer is a 2016 Henry W. Toll Fellow with the Council of State Governments. He serves on the Board of Directors of the Ronald Reagan Boyhood Home Preservation Foundation. He is a co-founder of the Future Caucus of millennial legislators in Illinois and has balanced a work-load of serving on 14 committees in the Illinois House this Spring Session.

“I thank Leader Durkin for his confidence and support,” Demmer said. “I am proud of the work our caucus has done to fight for a better future for Illinois, and I look forward to continuing to work with all stakeholders to bring new opportunities for Illinois families.”

Demmer has become Durkin’s most trusted lieutenant, so this was not unexpected. Keep an eye on this guy. He may look young enough to be a page, but he’s smart, has mad skills and obviously has enormous stamina. I mean, 14 committees? Who else could do that?

* Next

Former St. Charles Mayor Don DeWitte has been selected to fill the 33rd District State Senate seat soon to be vacated by Republican Karen McConnaughay, a party official said Saturday.

Kane County Republican Party Chairman Ken Shepro said DeWitte was selected from among seven candidates.

Retiring Rep. Steve Andersson (R-Geneva) had wanted that slot. Andersson voted to override the governor’s tax and budget vetoes last year, so there was a lot of behind the scenes push-back against him. I’m told DeWitte is a moderate like McConnaughay.

But DeWitte’s appointment means there will be one fewer woman in the Senate Republican caucus next year.

* And, finally, from a press release…

The Republican 47th House District Selection Committee is pleased to announce today the appointment of College of DuPage (COD) Board of Trustees Chairman Deanne Mazzochi to the Office of State Representative for the 47th House District of Illinois.

“I am grateful for this appointment to serve the people of the 47th District,” said Mazzochi. “Our communities are accustomed to the excellent services that Representative Bellock provided, and we are committed to maintaining them. Residents already have reached out to me on issues ranging from O’Hare and Tollway expansion, redistricting, property taxes, budget, and social services. I’m excited to get started and direct my energy and experience learning and listening to find creative ways to help this district, and to advocate for good policy during the November legislative veto session.”

The vacancy was created when retiring Rep. Patti Bellock (R-Hinsdale) was recently appointed director of the Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services. Mazzochi ran unopposed in the GOP primary.

- Posted by Rich Miller        

  1. - Grand Avenue - Monday, Jul 16, 18 @ 12:31 pm:

    Has Sylvana Tabares been replaced yet?

  2. - Rich Miller - Monday, Jul 16, 18 @ 12:34 pm:

    Grand Avenue, subscribe.

  3. - Oswego Willy - Monday, Jul 16, 18 @ 12:36 pm:

    Where does this leave Mr. Breen?

  4. - Oswego Willy - Monday, Jul 16, 18 @ 12:41 pm:

    Congratulations to Mr. Baise, I wish him only the best in his transition. A true gentleman, someone the ILGOP in the past could count on, and has tried to be someone thoughtful to what could be positions beneficial to the GOP. Baise will be terribly missed.

    Congrats also to Mr. DeWitte. My sincere hope is that this appointment will reflect a person who understands what damage Munis have faced these 3 years and work tirelessly within the caucus to be that force to consider policy that the GOP knows local control means more than prevailing wage and collective bargaining restraints.

  5. - Not Rich - Monday, Jul 16, 18 @ 1:07 pm:

    Greg Baise was and still is a gentleman.. he was respected by everyone in the Capitol. A true class act..

  6. - Captain Illini - Monday, Jul 16, 18 @ 1:12 pm:

    I respect the office Mr. Demmer occupies, but I have little respect for him as my Representative, and told him personally that I would never vote for him again. Why? Prior to his first term he assured all of us Republican state workers that he would be our champion…then went to Springfield and voted to slash our pensions and take away our health care…great work mope. I’d rather he just say - yep, gonna cut you like a knifer versus smile and lie to my face.

  7. - Chad Hays - Monday, Jul 16, 18 @ 2:56 pm:

    Tom Demmer is a star and don’t be surprised if one day we are referring to him as United States Senator Tom Demmer. Extraordinarily bright, thoughtful, pragmatic and a tireless worker. One of the truly good people in public office.

  8. - pool boy - Monday, Jul 16, 18 @ 3:12 pm:

    A long way from the Jacksonville city council. Among his many accomplishments the Casino Queen fee.

  9. - Flat Bed Ford - Monday, Jul 16, 18 @ 4:06 pm:

    Andersson didn’t get the appointment? Shocked I tell you! He has become not just a liberal but a radical liberal. Finally the GOP got something right in not appointing him to the senate.

  10. - Missing51 - Monday, Jul 16, 18 @ 4:41 pm:

    Maya Angelou said…
    “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”
    That’s how many of us think of “Great Baise”.

  11. - Oswego Willy - Monday, Jul 16, 18 @ 4:58 pm:



    Rep. Andersson was pragmatic, in the end.

    Mr. Demmer, as a member of the 99th General Assembly worked to leverage Illinois by voting time after time against budgets, and ensuring overrides to fund higher education and the paying of social services failed.

    Rep. Hays, with respect, you were one of the Brave 15… you know who the other 14 were.

    As in The Godfather…

    “I always thought it would be Demmer to save Illinois from Raunerism.

    It’s the smart move. Andersson was always smarter.”

    Exactly right.

    Good luck to Mr. Demmer, but let’s not forget who Mr. Demmer was, and where we are as a state because of Raunerism.

  12. - PaperBoy - Wednesday, Jul 18, 18 @ 6:24 pm:

    Congratulations to my good friend Greg Baise in staying the course with the IMA. Always (well, most of the time) the voice of reason in the GOP when it came to what should be done and when, I am glad to see that the former Jacksonville Alderman will keep stirring the political pot leading XPS. Good luck Gregor.

Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.

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