House Republican Leader Tom Cross won't back state Rep. Rosemary Mulligan's primary election bid, instead taking the rare stance of lending support to the longtime incumbent lawmaker's opponent.
A Cross spokeswoman said Friday that he will back Susan Sweeney, a Park Ridge Republican who, like Mulligan, is seeking a write-in nomination for the 55th House District seat. The district includes parts of Des Plaines, Elk Grove Village and Park Ridge.
Mulligan -- who actually filed as a write-in in the 20th Illinois House District as well as the 55th -- said she feels betrayed by House Republican leaders.
"I didn't expect them to call me up and say, 'I'm not backing you.' The leader is supposed to be the one that backs the incumbent," said Mulligan, of Des Plaines.
Cross spokeswoman Sara Wojcicki Jimenez said Cross recruited Sweeney because House Republicans didn't know for sure whether Mulligan would file as a write-in candidate by the deadline Thursday. Mulligan earlier had to pull her name from the regular ballot after conceding she did not have enough petition signatures to qualify.
If Mulligan didn't file as a write-in, Cross feared the seat would have more easily fallen into the hands of Democratic candidate and Des Plaines Mayor Marty Moylan without giving the GOP a chance to put up a fight, Wojcicki Jimenez said.
"We didn't have a clear answer on whether or not she planned to file as a write-in," Wojcicki Jimenez said.
So with the deadline to file a write-in candidacy nearing, Cross recruited Sweeney, who he plans to support.
Mulligan says Cross should have talked to her first.
"I expected them to ask me what I was doing, and ask if I wasn't going to run again to give them someone in our area who I would be willing to back," Mulligan said.
Along with Mulligan and Sweeney, another Park Ridge Republican, Kelly Schaefer, has also filed to run as a write-in but hasn't returned several calls for comment.
Sweeney said she was "just encouraged by friends and family to run."
Meanwhile, Mulligan filed Thursday to run as a write-in candidate also in the 20th House District, which encompasses parts of Des Plaines, Park Ridge, Schiller Park and Chicago.
That would make her an opponent of incumbent state Rep. Michael McAuliffe of Chicago. State law does not prohibit write-in candidates from running in more than one district, said Courtney Greve, spokeswoman for the Cook County Clerk's office.
Why would she do it? "Because I have a sense of humor," Mulligan said Friday.
McAuliffe, an abortion opponent, needs her endorsement as a Republican who supports abortion rights, Mulligan said.
Those close to Cross say she could be trying to force McAuliffe's hand -- and perhaps other Republicans' -- to overtly support her in her 55th District bid.