House Republicans Choose Durkin For Leader

Aug 29, 2013

Rep. Jim Durkin, left, was chosen by his colleagues to be the new House Republican leader. Rep. Raymond Poe, right, had also sought the office, but in the end endorsed Durkin.
Credit Amanda Vinicky/WUIS

Republican members of the Illinois House have a new leader: longtime Rep. Jim Durkin of suburban Western Springs. Lawmakers met in Springfield today to choose a replacement for outgoing House Minority Leader Tom Cross. 

Republicans aren't just the minority party in the Illinois House. They're in the super-minority, with 47 members to Democrats' 71. Durkin says he'll work to slim those margins.

"We have a very diverse caucus, but you know, we're going to use that diversity to our advantage this next coming cycle," Durkin says. "I'm excited about the prospects of the future."

He also says he'll work to bring House Republicans together, despite splits on social issues like same-sex marriage, which Durkin says he opposes. There's also a suburban versus downstate divide — amplified in Durkin's battle with Springfield Rep. Raymond Poe for the leadership post. But when the vote took place, both men presented a united front — it was Poe who nominated Durkin in the closed-door meeting.

Durkin has been in the Illinois House since 1995, except for when he left in 2002 to run for U.S. Senate. He's a former prosecutor, and played a key role in the impeachment of former Gov. Rod Blagojevich.

Durkin says he'll formally take over sometime next month; Rep. Cross is stepping down from his leadership post and is expected to run for state treasurer.