Two candidates vying to replace departing state Sen. Matt Murphy of Palatine dropped out of the running Tuesday, with both choosing to keep their seats in the Illinois House instead.
Republican state Rep. David Harris of Arlington Heights first told the Daily Herald he planned to withdraw his name. Less than three hours later, state Rep. Tom Morrison of Palatine followed suit.
Harris, who was elected in 2010 and previously served in the state legislature in the 1980s and '90s, said his decision was influenced by the seniority, committee assignments and good relationships with colleagues he has in the House. Morrison cited a desire to "make sure we have the strongest voices possible in both the House and Senate" and said the way to do so was "by staying put."
Morrison threw his support behind Rolling Meadows Mayor Tom Rooney, who could emerge as the consensus candidate among a group of suburban Republican committeemen who don't always get along. Harris said there are "several quality candidates."
Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner and a number of his allies interviewed candidates, then numbering six, on Friday.
Local party leaders are scheduled to meet Thursday to select a replacement for Murphy, who is leaving to work for the public affairs and lobbying firm Mac Strategies Group.
The remaining candidates seeking the appointment are Palatine Township Republican Committeeman Aaron Del Mar, Palatine Township Supervisor Sharon Langlotz-Johnson, Arlington Heights Trustee Joe Farwell and Rooney.
In naming a new state senator, party leaders' votes are weighted based on the number of GOP votes cast in their townships in the last primary election. Palatine Township has 41 percent of the vote. Wheeling Township has 39 percent, Elk Grove Township has 16 percent, and Maine and Barrington townships have 2 percent or less apiece.
With the leaders of Wheeling and Palatine townships perpetually at odds, Elk Grove Township Committeeman Art Niewiardowski's choice is expected to put a candidate over the top. O'Connell, the Wheeling Township chairman, had backed Harris but says she would also support Rooney or Morrison. Had Morrison received a majority of votes, Del Mar would have had the power to appoint himself as Morrison's replacement in the House.
Murphy, a nearly 10-year Senate veteran and top spokesman for the Illinois GOP's agenda, will begin his new job Friday.