Northwest suburban Republicans on Thursday chose Rolling Meadows Mayor Tom Rooney to replace departing state Sen. Matt Murphy, a move that came after a string of other candidates dropped out of the running.
Rooney, 48, says he'll step down in the coming weeks from his mayoral post as he transitions into representing the 27th Senate District, which includes parts of Palatine, Mount Prospect, Prospect Heights, Arlington Heights, Rolling Meadows and Inverness.
"It's too hard to keep both of these jobs at once," he said.
Rooney said it will be an honor to represent the Senate district in its entirety after years of working with local leaders. "I feel like my family just got bigger," he said.
Rooney was elected to his second term as mayor last year. He's said he's proud of efforts he's led to trim staff raises and salaries at the city level and of Rolling Meadows' upgraded bond rating by both Standard & Poor's and Moody's.
The selection of Rooney came as three contenders removed their names from consideration.
Palatine Township Republican Committeeman Aaron Del Mar was the latest to drop out Thursday afternoon, which clinched Rooney's selection by party committeemen that evening.
"Nothing is more important than a strong, unified Republican Party," Del Mar said. He called Rooney an "effective, reform-orientated mayor" and said he's confident Rooney will bring the same type of leadership to Springfield.
State Rep. Tom Morrison of Palatine and Rep. David Harris of Arlington Heights also removed their names. Also seeking the appointment were Palatine Township Supervisor Sharon Langlotz-Johnson and Arlington Heights Trustee Joe Farwell.
Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner and a number of his allies, among them Senate Republican Leader Christine Radogno of Lemont and John Tillman of the Illinois Policy Institute, interviewed the candidates, then numbering six, last Friday in Chicago.
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 had 41 percent of the vote. Wheeling Township had 39 percent, Elk Grove Township had 16 percent, and Maine and Barrington townships had 2 percent or less apiece.
Murphy, a nearly 10-year Senate veteran and top spokesman for the Illinois GOP's agenda, begins his new job today with Mac Strategies Group, a public affairs and lobbying firm.
Rooney said a phone call to Murphy was one of the first things he did after being named to the post. Murphy, he said, offered him a ride to Springfield the next time both are heading to the capital.