Statehouse
4:38 pm
Fri June 13, 2014

Conservative Jack Roeser Left Imprint On State Politics

The Illinois Republican Party says longtime conservative activist Jack Roeser  has died. He was 90. The wealthy businessman spent years on the outside, fighting the party establishment.

Roeser became a rich man from the company he founded: Otto Engineering. It makes, among other things, radio components for police and military use.

The suburban Chicago businessman spread his wealth around, giving millions to conservative candidates and causes. But for a long time, you couldn't pin him with the usual words given to such men, like "insider," "power broker," or "king maker."

That's because Roeser often lost his battles with the Illinois Republican Party — unsuccessfully running against then-Gov. Jim Edgar in 1994 and trying to sink Mark Kirk's 2010 campaign for U.S. Senate.

But lately he'd had more success. The rise of the Tea Party Republicans made his views seem more mainstream.

This year, Roeser supported Bruce Rauner in the Republican primary.

In a statement, Rauner said he was saddened to hear of Roeser's death, while the state Republican Party praised him for what it called his "lifetime of principled leadership."