Illinois Republican Party Chairman Pat Brady survived another call for his job Saturday at a raucous state central committee meeting in Tinley Park. It was the third such attempt in recent months.
About 75 people attended the meeting to call for Brady's ouster over his support for gay marriage. They erupted in anger when they learned Brady would keep his job. Local police had been called to keep the peace, at one point locking people out of the hallway adjacent to the meeting room, where they'd begun yelling and chanting, "Throw him out."
Instead of removing Brady, the state committee voted to develop a succession plan to replace him when his term expires in 2014.
"Any good business has a succession plan, so we're working on that," Brady said. "My term is up, and I'm not going to run again."
While a motion was made for the committee to oust Brady, he said no vote was taken on it during a three-hour closed session. Republican National Committeeman Rich Williamson and state committeemen Jim Oberweis, Mark Shaw and Jerry Clark orchestrated the failed coup.
"People that aren't happy with me voiced their opinions," Brady said. "We all left today as friends."
Oberweis has long been critical of Brady's leadership, but the state party chairman's support of gay marriage, which runs counter to the state and national party platform, has been the lightning rod recently.
Most of the Republicans in attendance Saturday were against Brady solely for his stance on gay marriage.
"Any attempt to redefine marriage cannot coexist with religious freedom," said Karen Hayes, a Worth Township committeewoman from Palos Heights. "This goes past ignoring the platform. I'm helping out any way I can to see him gone."
Mark Stern, committeeman for Milton Township in the Republican stronghold of DuPage County, said Brady's support of gay marriage leads to division among Republicans and weakens the party.
"We need a leader people can rally around," Stern said. "Pat Brady chose to focus on things that are divisive rather than the 80 percent of things we all agree on. That's not leadership."
A number of top donors have expressed frustration over the state party's very public battle, one that has served as a microcosm of an issue faced by the national party, which performed poorly across the country at the polls in November.
While some leaders say the party needs to be a "big tent" organization that can better attract independent-voting women, gay and minority voters unhappy with Democratic leadership, they find themselves at odds with the more conservative faction of the party, which often dominates primaries.
Congressman Greg Walden of Oregon, chairman of the National Republican Congressional Committee, was in town for a fundraiser and had breakfast with Brady Saturday, calling him "a great guy." However, Walden didn't dip his toe into the state party's infighting.
"I don't get into the middle of those things," Walden said.
While Oberweis quickly left after the executive session, Brady stayed to talk with people, including opponents who had been upset the closed session was held without first taking public comment.
Asked if he thought he'd have to continue fighting to keep his job, the chairman was confident.
"I think this puts it to bed," he said.
• Daily Herald Political Editor Kerry Lester and Daily Herald news services contributed to this report.