I previously covered the effort by certain same-sex marriage opponents in Illinois to oust the pro-same sex marriage Chairman of the Illinois GOP, Pat Brady, here.
That effort will culminate tomorrow, with the meeting of the state central committee.
But on the eve of the vote, it appears that those behind the effort have attracted some fresh opposition, in the form of two former Republican governors of the Land of Lincoln:
Former Republican Govs. Jim Thompson and Jim Edgar urged the GOP State Central Committee to adopt a “big tent” approach as they head into a special meeting Saturday, when the panel could vote to oust Party Chairman Pat Brady.
“If they fire Pat Brady, it will further submerge the Republican Party in Illinois, which is at a pretty low point, anyway,” Thompson said Thursday in an interview with WBEZ.
Given the timing, Edgar said it would be unwise to fire Brady for his public support of same-sex marriage, as public sentiment is headed in the same direction.
“I think it’d be a mistake to use that as a reason to – to remove somebody who I think’s done a credible job,” Edgar said in an interview Thursday. “And it’s the wrong political decision as well as, I don’t think it’s the smartest thing to do.”
“If they vote Pat Brady out, they better have a damn fine candidate to replace him, rather than leave the party leaderless or rudderless or in the hands of somebody who can’t do the same good job that Pat does,” Thompson said. “That would be outrageous.”
Previously, it appeared that Brady's opponents were arguing for his ouster on grounds that extended beyond his support for same-sex marriage.
Illinois State Sen. Jim Oberweis, a state central committeeman behind the ouster move, has however conceded that Brady's stance on same-sex marriage is a, if not the, primary issue, telling WBEZ, “You cannot have the chair of an organization publicly going out and lobbying in opposition to the organization’s stated goals. Doesn’t matter what the goal is. It would have been exactly the same result if he had lobbied in favor of Obamacare."
Brady backers argue that opposition to same-sex marriage is not a majority position among Illinois Republicans, and further, that Brady has not pushed for same-sex marriage on behalf of the ILGOP, but rather in his personal capacity. Brady also notes that the principle of accepting a diversity of opinion is in the ILGOP's platform.
Brady views the attempt at his ouster as something that would "send a terrible signal to the people of the state of Illinois that we’re a close-minded party."
Meanwhile, state central committeeman Roger Claar told WBEZ that the move was reminiscent of a "kangaroo court."
In order to remove Brady, three-fifths of the state central committee will have to vote to do so.
As previously noted, my personal opinion is that Brady should remain in office, particularly given the importance of electing a Republican governor in 2014 and the significant challenge that installing a new Chairman now would present in achieving that.
This is of course setting aside that Brady's stance on same-sex marriage is in line with Illinois opinion on the issue, which is politically helpful.