As Republican leaders prepare to pick their statewide chairman Saturday, they say they hope Cook County Commissioner Tim Schneider of Bartlett -- the only candidate for the job -- can unite the party as it tries to win the governor's race.
Schneider has been backed by GOP candidate for governor Bruce Rauner of Winnetka and appears poised to take over for Rosemont village Trustee Jack Dorgan today when the Republican State Central Committee meets in Springfield to vote.
Committee member Ryan Higgins of Schaumburg, who nominated Schneider for the post, said he thinks Schneider will transition into the job smoothly.
"Tim is well-liked and respected by various different portions of the party," Higgins said.
The last change of chairman was tumultuous. Dorgan was elected to the job last year after Pat Brady of St. Charles was nearly ousted by GOP leaders for lobbying lawmakers to vote for same-sex marriage.
And in the primary, the issue was a big one in a race for Illinois House in DuPage County, where conservatives spent millions trying unsuccessfully to defeat state Rep. Ron Sandack, a Downers Grove Republican who voted for same-sex marriage.
Schneider likely isn't yet well-known statewide, but Sandack said he doesn't think that'll be an issue.
"I didn't know Jack Dorgan until he got the job, either," he said.
Schneider, who was the Hanover Township Republican committeeman until the March primary, declined to comment until Saturday.
State Sen. Dave Syverson, a Rockford Republican on the state central committee, said he thought Schneider's backing of Rauner and other officials was critical to him becoming the next chairman.
Plus, he said, as Republicans put a lot of focus on trying to defeat Gov. Pat Quinn in November, it doesn't hurt that Scheider is from suburban Cook County, a likely battleground in the 2014 campaign.
"Coming from that area is something that is positive as well," Syverson
Schneider is the only candidate for the job after the other candidate who filed by a deadline, Blair Garber of Evanston, said he'd withdraw his bid.
Schneider was a candidate for chairman before the June 1 vote last year where Dorgan was elected, but dropped out before the committee met.