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11:16 pm
Mon August 26, 2013

House Republicans Rushing To Fill Leader Post

Jim Durkin, Dwight Kay, Raymond Poe
Reps. Jim Durkin, Dwight Kay, and Raymond Poe are seeking the position of House Republican leader.
Credit Illinois House of Representatives

Republicans in the Illinois House will meet Thursday afternoon in Springfield to select a new leader. A letter obtained by WUIS says finding a replacement for outgoing Minority Leader Tom Cross is "of the utmost urgency."

It was less than a week ago that Minority Leader Tom Cross announced he was stepping down — he's expected to instead run for state treasurer.

Seventeen House Republicans signed a letter officially scheduling the meeting Thursday. They say there's no time to waste in electing Cross' successor.

The letter says the House GOP's fundraising arm, the House Republican Organization, is in "dire financial straits," and that shoring-up funds ahead of next year's election will be difficult until a new leader is in place.

Whether anyone has the 24 votes needed to win that position is unclear — tallies are fluid. Candidates who believe they have the votes may be hurrying to lock in support before there's time for a split.

There may well be a suburban/downstate divide when it's time to vote — Rep. Jim Durkin, of Western Springs, is pitted against Representatives Raymond Poe, of Springfield, and Dwight Kay, who's from Madison County.

While Kay was not a signatory to the letter, he says choosing a new leader should happen sooner than later.

"If we put this off a month, or we put it off longer than a month, we have some very serious practical matters in terms of operating a party," Kay says. "And I don't think any of us want that."

Republicans are in the super-minority in the House — they have 47 members to Democrats' 71.