One of the seven Republican state central committeemen who signed a letter last week calling for a special meeting in the wake of the party chairman's comments supporting same-sex marriage is being strongly considered for the top post.
Barrington businessman and influential Republican donor Jack Roeser told the Daily Herald Friday that he contacted party officials and suggested 10th District Committeeman Mark Shaw be named interim chair.
"Mark Shaw would be a fine guy for it," Roeser said. "He's bright enough, he's decent enough."
Roeser went on to note that the independent-voting 10th Congressional District -- which five times elected socially moderate Mark Kirk to Congress and is now represented by Deerfield Democratic Rep. Brad Schneider -- "has some wacko politics up there."
Shaw, he said, "is a pretty decent guy considering the environment."
Brady, a St. Charles resident, said he's since been informed that those are committeemen's plans.
Party bylaws, state Sen. and 14th District Committeeman Jim Oberweis said, permit an interim chairman to be named.
"My suggestion to the committee," said Oberweis, a Sugar Grove resident, "is that we put together a committee to consider, interview and recommend candidates for a new chairman."
Last Friday, Oberweis, Shaw, Chris Kachiroubas of the 6th District, Gene Dawson of the 8th District, Bobbie Peterson of the 11th District, Jerry Clarke of the 15th District and Bob Winchester of the 19th District signed a letter calling for a special meeting March 9 in Tinley Park, where Brady's removal could be voted on.
Shaw, in an interview, noted the closed-door meeting "was designed to talk about the financial and leadership status of the party. To see where we're going between now and next year's primary and given the fact that there are concerns from Republicans out there that the party is going in the wrong direction or the party is not going in the wrong direction, where are we going with everything."
Brady objects to the closed-door nature of the meeting,
"This reaffirms the message of a closeminded, backroom-dealing party," Brady said, "that whether you disagree or agree with me or not, if you don't pass the purity test you're not welcome."
Shaw, a Lake Forest attorney who in November lost a bid for 58th District state representative, was named to his post as committeeman last summer, after T. Tolbert Chisum moved out of state.
"Obviously anybody would be flattered that someone would think that they have the leadership and management skills," Shaw said. "Being relatively new to the state central committee I would defer to more senior members to decide. Obviously if that's what the majority thinks needs to be done, well, I signed on to help the party. I'm not going to say that I'm not willing to help out at least not on an interim basis."
In early January, Brady voiced his full support of same-sex marriage legislation in a statement and in phone calls to lawmakers. That support runs contrary to the party's platform, which defines marriage as between one man and one woman. Brady said he did so as a private citizen, and not in his capacity as party chairman. Yet some party committeemen say Brady's remarks cannot be separated from his official role as chairman.
After the state Senate voted 34-21 in favor of same-sex marriage Feb. 14, Brady described his party as being "on the wrong side of history."
The socially conservative Roeser Friday said Brady's "proposal about two men being in a family, it's startling. When you look at what he did, he bolted and didn't talk to anyone around him. He just, boom, went ahead and did it."
But several top Republicans, including U.S. Sen. Mark Kirk of Highland Park and Illinois House Republican Leader Tom Cross of Oswego, are backing Brady.
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.
Brady will be out of town for the meeting, but committeemen point out he can be teleconferenced in.
In recent days, Brady has moved to postpone a high-profile party fundraiser honoring Exelon Corp. CEO John Rowe and featuring Republican National Committee Chair Reince Priebus, "until," he wrote to committeemen, "this is resolved."