Longtime Fremont Township Assessor Ed Sullivan Jr. won't have the support of the township's Republican "foot soldiers" in his primary campaign to keep his state representative job.
In what Fremont GOP chairman Connie Shanahan said was a rare move, he was asked to gather precinct committeemen for an endorsement session that included Sullivan and challenger Bob Bednar on Saturday, Feb. 15. Bednar won the precinct bosses' support for House District 51 after both men gave presentations.
Shanahan said Sullivan may not have won because of his vote last year for same-sex marriage and a perception he's not a conservative Republican.
But Sullivan questioned whether the meeting was proper, in part, because endorsements were made for state treasurer and other races without all candidates being invited to present their qualifications. He said his backing of gay marriage was the committeemen's focus.
"The majority of committeemen in Fremont Township represent the ultimate fringe of the Republican Party," Sullivan said Wednesday. "They are opposed to me over one issue: marriage equality."
Bednar said while he doesn't support same-sex marriage, that's not the only reason he's running against his fellow Mundelein resident. He said he looks forward to receiving help from the committeemen -- ranging from planting signs to visiting Republican voters at their homes -- in the township where Sullivan is assessor.
"They are the foot soldiers," Bednar said. "I think it is extremely important. It shows the rank-and-file -- the people who go out and walk and talk -- are not very happy with Mr. Sullivan."
Sullivan has been a state representative since 2002 and Fremont Township's assessor for 21 years. Bednar, who lost to Democratic Lake County Recorder of Deeds Mary Ellen Vanderventer in 2012, is making his first try at a statewide office.
District 51 includes all or parts of Mundelein, Libertyville, Lake Zurich, Long Grove, Vernon Hills, Hawthorn Woods, Deer Park, Green Oaks, Barrington, Tower Lakes, North Barrington and Lake Barrington.
Bednar and Sullivan are similar in opposing an extension of the state's income tax hike after it's due to expire in January 2015. They also pan the idea of pursuing a progressive income tax.
Sullivan attracted attention last year as one of three House Republicans to vote for same-sex marriage. He's contended conservative groups supporting Bednar are attacking him on the issue.
Bednar has criticized Sullivan for holding paid, elected posts as assessor and state representative. Sullivan has responded by saying there is nothing wrong with him having the two elected jobs and that he donates his assessor salary to a charity when working as a state legislator.
No Democrats are running in the March 18 primary for House District 51. It's unknown if the Bednar-Sullivan winner will face Democratic competition in the November general election.