SPRINGFIELD -- Illinois Republican officials were just one vote shy of ousting state party Chairman Pat Brady of St. Charles last week over his support for same-sex marriage, an email from one of them says.
In fact, proponents of removing Brady initially had just enough votes to prevail, but pressure from U.S. Sen. Mark Kirk of Highland Park and Illinois House Republican Leader Tom Cross of Oswego changed one committeeman's mind, state Central Committeeman Bob Winchester wrote in an email to Republican county chairmen.
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The meeting to oust Brady, which had been set for March 9 in Tinley Park, then was canceled. "Needless to say all of us were very upset," Winchester, of downstate Rosiclare, wrote.
"We only had one shot," Winchester's email reads, "so we decided to save the loss and wait until the (April 13th) regular scheduled meeting and possibly try again then."
Brady has come under fire from some in his party after calling state lawmakers late last year to advocate for their approval of same-sex marriage in Illinois. He said he was doing so outside of his official job as leader of the party.
But some Republican leaders pushed to get rid of Brady for taking a position out of sync with the state GOP platform.
Ultimately, it's unclear how any vote would have played out. The political dynamic of the meeting could have changed votes one way or another. But Winchester's suggestion the vote would be close could show Brady's hold on the job is tenuous.
Brady's opponents needed a 60 percent weighted vote of Republican committeemen to remove him. The email says one member, Carol Donovan of Chicago, had been counted as a vote against Brady but subsequently declined to vote after Kirk and Cross encouraged her not to.
Cross and Kirk have both publicly supported Brady. Brady declined to comment.
Winchester said the group seeking Brady's removal will try again. That group includes state Sen. Jim Oberweis, a Sugar Grove Republican, who sparked the effort.
"It doesn't mean we might not find someone," Winchester said.
He said the email was intended to be a private one to local county chairman, but it was first posted on the Illinois political blog CapitolFax.com.
"I'm surprised that they would publicize it," Winchester said.
The Illinois Senate has approved same-sex marriage legislation and sent it to the House.
House Speaker Michael Madigan said this week that the effort could be a dozen votes short there, suggesting the Democratic-led chamber might not be able to send legislation to Gov. Pat Quinn's desk soon.
Even though the House has a large Democratic majority, the party -- like the GOP -- isn't in lock step on the issue. Many more conservative downstate Democrats won't vote for it.
For example, Winchester's senator is Sen. Gary Forby of Benton, a Democrat who voted against same-sex marriage.