After several weeks of failed attempts, state central committeemen have called a special meeting to oust Illinois GOP Chair Pat Brady for his statements supporting same-sex marriage.
Brady told the Daily Herald Friday that he learned of the closed door March 9 meeting through a phone call from Jerry Clarke, 15th District committeeman and former chief of staff of Congressman Randy Hultgren of Winfield.
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According to party rules, five signatures of committeemen are required for a special meeting.
Seven committeemen -- Clarke, Chris Kachiroubas of the 6th District, Gene Dawson of the 8th District, Bobbie Peterson of the 11th District, Jim Oberweis of the 14th District and Bob Winchester of the 19th District, Mark Shaw of the 10th District -- have signed the letter.
Brady on Friday called the committeemen's actions "misguided" and "a huge setback for the party."
"It will do irreparable harm to our brand," he said. "I don't understand (this) but I respect the process."
The news came after Oberweis, a state senator from Sugar Grove, reserved a hotel room in early February at his own cost, but came short of the required five signatures needed for the meeting.
In an earlier email to fellow state central committeemen obtained by the Daily Herald, Oberweis said,
"I was hoping someone would take a leadership role when the need became apparent but no one stepped up
to the plate."
Oberweis suggested that Clarke "or someone will organize such a meeting as soon as possible."
Clarke did not return calls from the Daily Herald seeking comment Friday. Dawson, Oberweis, Kachiroubas and Winchester also did not return calls.
Brady, of St. Charles, in a statement and in phone calls to lawmakers in early January, voiced his full support of
same-sex marriage legislation being considered by the Illinois General Assembly. Brady said he did so as a private citizen, and not in his capacity as party chairman. After last week's 34-21 vote in favor of same-sex marriage in the state Senate, Brady described his party as being "on the wrong side of history."
Top Republican officials, including U.S. Sen. Mark Kirk of Highland Park and Illinois House Republican Leader Tom Cross of Oswego, are backing Brady, but Oberweis said Brady should be removed to get past this issue.
In Illinois, a party chair can be ousted with a three-fifths majority weighted vote from state party committeemen.
Committeemen's votes are weighted by how many voters in each congressional district turn out in the previous primary, giving the most politically active districts the most power.
Committeemen must be notified of a special meeting five business days before it occurs.
The March 9 meeting -- which Brady will be out of town for -- comes 10 days before a party fundraiser hosted by Brady and headlined by Republican National Committee Chair Reince Priebus at the Chicago Club. John Rowe, the Exelon Corp. CEO who has urged lawmakers to support same-sex marriage, will be honored.