Ill. GOP official quits after backlash for gay marriage support

CHICAGO — Illinois Republican Chairman Pat Brady told leading GOP members Monday night that he will announce his resignation Tuesday following a tumultuous period of controversy over his backing of gay marriage legislation, sources said.

Brady, who had weathered previous attempts to remove him from office over the issue of his backing of same-sex marriage and other perceived failures to support GOP candidates, was unavailable for comment.

Last month, Republican leaders met in Tinley Park and allowed Brady to stay on the job temporarily. But they also formed a committee to select a replacement for him with a goal of finding a new chairman by mid-May. One prospective contender for the post, state Sen. Matt Murphy of Palatine, a former candidate for lieutenant governor, said Monday he had withdrawn his name as a possible replacement.

The effort to remove Brady from the chairmanship post he has held since August 2009 was engineered by state Sen. Jim Oberweis of Sugar Grove. Oberweis has maintained that Brady, as chairman, should not contravene a plank in the Republican platform, as Brady did on gay marriage.

But after the losses nationally and in Illinois that Republicans suffered in the 2012 general elections, Brady acknowledged a need for the state GOP to reach out to restore itself in Democratic President Barack Obama’s home state.

Brady’s support for same-sex marriage also highlighted decades of tensions between the moderate and conservative wings of the state GOP. Social conservatives have long chafed over what they believe is the control of Illinois’ Republican Party by the social moderate wing of the party.

Brady, who had served as the state GOP’s national committeeman, took over following the resignation of Andrew McKenna Jr. at GOP Day at the Illinois State Fair in 2009. McKenna went on to mount an unsuccessful bid for the 2010 Republican nomination for governor.

Brady had maintained that his support for pending same-sex marriage legislation was done personally and not as state Republican chairman. Others on the Republican State Central Committee disagreed.

“It’s about addition and not subtraction,” Brady said last month of the differing viewpoints within the GOP, “and if we come off as mean-spirited or angry or too dogmatic, then we don’t attract people to the party.”

Supporters have said they are closing in on passing the gay marriage bill in the Illinois House, though a vote in the final scheduled month of the spring session remains up in the air. Only one state Senate Republican voted for the bill when it passed the Senate and two GOP members in the House, Reps. Ed Sullivan Jr. of Mundelein and Ron Sandack of Downers Grove, have announced their support for the measure.

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