Same-sex marriage opponents are reportedly seeking to oust the Chairman of the Illinois Republican Party at a meeting of the state central committee on March 9.
Pat Brady, who was elected Chairman in August 2009, became the target of same-sex marriage foes after publicly voicing support for same-sex marriage, which has been the focus of legislation in the Land of Lincoln this legislative session.
Committeemen Jim Oberweis (a state senator from Sugar Grove) and Jerry Clarke (of Urbana) are depicting the move as grounded in a broader set of concerns, ranging from fundraising to communication issues.
However, in an interview with radio station WBEZ earlier this month, Oberweis conceded that the move was “something to do with a CEO of an organization lobbying on behalf of something the organization opposes” (the “something” in question apparently being same-sex marriage).
The move to oust Brady is reportedly opposed by Sen. Mark Kirk, who won his Senate seat under Brady’s tenure. It is also opposed by Illinois House Republican leader Tom Cross, and grassroots conservatives within the state.
Supporters of Brady point to the Kirk Senate seat win, the pick-up of four congressional seats, and the win of various state-level offices which had previously been held by Democrats as evidence of Brady’s effectiveness.
In addition, they cite his work in bringing the party’s finances and operations into order (one supporter points to both fundraising and cost-cutting, as well as upgrading its data operations). Chris Robling, an Illinois GOP analyst and blogger calls Brady “the best chairman we have seen in 20 years.”
In the wake of the news, Brady has canceled a major fundraiser that was reportedly expected to bring in $250,000 to the party, and at which Exelon CEO John Rowe, himself a same sex marriage supporter and big donor to the IL GOP, was to be honored.
In a statement to WBEZ, Rowe said, “The party needs to work its way through this because it’s pretty clear that you can’t be too conservative on the so-called social issues and win in Illinois.”
That’s true enough, but as many of us conservative and libertarian same-sex marriage supporters have opined previously, it is inaccurate to suggest there is anything philosophically inconsistent with support for the freedom of same-sex couples to marry and support for free markets, the pro-life perspective, and a robust national defense.
Brady has had the good sense to support same sex marriage rights as many others in the GOP, ranging from Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen to Ted Olson, have publicly declared their support for government recognition of same-sex marriages.
That may not be popular with same-sex marriage opponents, but it is it is also hardly on a par, as substance goes, with a party Chairman running the organization’s finances into the ground, engaging in gaffe-a-minute interviews that wreck the party’s image, or failing to develop and then execute an appropriate GOTV program come election time (these are just some of the failings that have been evident on the part of other state party chairmen from around the country over the years).
The 2014 Illinois gubernatorial race is one for which both Illinois and national Republicans have high hopes. One concern about ousting Brady that should exist—separate to that of the reputational damage to the party that would be sustained by purging a Chairman over views that are within the mainstream of American political opinion, in a bluer state like Illinois where the Rick Santorums of the world are unlikely to compete under even the best circumstances—is to do with the prospect of having hard work needed to win the governorship halted as another Chairman takes over, acclimates to the office, and attempts then restart work that Brady has already begun.
Illinois Republicans should resist the temptation to clear house over a philosophical disagreement on one issue, and keep Brady in place.
Not only will his brand likely prove more of a help than a hindrance, but the mess of changing horses in midstream (which was too risky even during Michael Steele’s objectively rather shambolic tenure as RNC Chairman for RNC members to seriously pursue) will be avoided.