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updated: 4/15/2014 5:37 PM

Del Mar, Cleveland will battle for Cook GOP post

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Cook County Republican Party Chairman Aaron Del Mar faces a challenge for the post from Chicago GOP vice chairman Chris Cleveland when the party meets Wednesday to pick its leader in Illinois' biggest county.

Del Mar, the Palatine Township Republican chairman, has the backing of Winnetka businessman and GOP candidate for governor Bruce Rauner.

Under Del Mar, the county party and Palatine Republicans backed Rauner in the March primary.

"The one thing I'm going to be laser-focused about is getting Bruce Rauner elected governor," Del Mar said.

Cleveland argues that will be easier if Rauner can do well in Chicago, where Democrats tend to dominate. He says he's helped the party be more active there and narrowing the margin between Democratic and GOP votes in November could be a big help to statewide candidates.

"In the last couple of years in Chicago, we've managed to revitalize the party," Cleveland said.

County party organizations across the state will meet Wednesday to pick their leaders, and the suburbs will see a handful of contested battles.

Del Mar in primary season asked two congressional candidates to back out of their races. He urged Manju Goel to step aside because of a website attacking her opponent and eventual nomination winner Larry Kaifesh.

And he asked Susanne Atanus to step down from her campaign to take on Democratic U.S. Rep. Jan Schakowsky after Atanus suggested severe weather events were caused by pushes for gay rights.

County chairman help organize the party faithful, endorse candidates, raise funds and can be responsible for helping fill vacancies in other elected offices.

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