On their signature day at the Illinois State Fair in August 2009, Republicans found themselves scrambling to name a new chairman.
Shortly after Andy McKenna resigned his post, party leaders elected Republican National committeeman Pat Brady, of St. Charles.
Brady, an attorney and former federal prosecutor, had considered making a bid for the job, in due time. That day, he had planned to simply take his four children on some of the rides at the fair.
But over the last 3½ years as party chair, Brady has established himself as a leader unafraid to take on Democratic Party boss Mike Madigan and as a successful fundraiser adept at making national party connections.
Even state Sen. Jim Oberweis, the Sugar Grove Republican currently working for Brady's ouster, called him a "good, honest, honorable individual" and "a step up from former insiders who served the party."
While the state GOP, as Brady famously quipped, won "five of its top four races" during the 2010 Republican wave, showings last November were not nearly as strong, with Democrats netting three of three targeted congressional seats and a host of state legislative seats, thanks, in part, to a new political map.
The party, under Brady's leadership, has cut operating expenses by two-thirds, and, with the help of U.S. Sen. Mark Kirk, launched a program that aims to maximize resources by using strategically placed volunteer centers to help candidates in races up and down the ticket
Along with Oberweis, other members of Brady's own party from around the state are calling on him to resign from his post because of statements he made in support of same-sex marriage. Brady, whose term expires next spring, isn't budging. But he says he's undecided about running for a second term in 2014.
"I'll see what happens. I've been doing this my whole life," he said of politics. "I do think that we (Republicans) are in the process of taking a good hard look at where the party's going."