Skoien under fire in committeeman race
As suburban Republican boss Gary Skoien faces mailers highlighting a domestic incident that made him the butt of jokes on a late-night talk show, two top Republicans have stepped forward to oppose his re-election campaign.
Illinois Republican Party Chairman Pat Brady of St. Charles and Cook County GOP Chairman Lee Roupas - a position Skoien held as recently as 2007 - are backing challenger Aaron Del Mar in the Palatine Township GOP committeeman race.
Del Mar is a freshman Palatine councilman who has never pulled a Republican ballot in a primary, but who is closely aligned with local GOPers long opposed to Skoien.
Roupas said he is backing Del Mar "to build and encourage a new generation of leaders." Brady couldn't be reached for comment.
Skoien called the endorsements "bizarre," adding that top party leaders should stay out of local primary fights.
"It shouldn't be a top-down sort of thing," he said.
Skoien led the county's GOP from 2004 to 2007.
Skoien, 56, pointed to Del Mar's voting record as a reason why Republicans shouldn't endorse his opponent.
Del Mar, 31, said he has been too busy building businesses to get involved in politics until recently. He is now a precinct captain.
Del Mar said he voted in the 2008 Democratic primary to prolong that presidential battle, a tactic inspired by conservative talk show hosts. Del Mar said he supported Sen. John McCain all along.
Del Mar cast ballots in the general elections of 2004, 2006 and 2008 as well as local elections last year, according to his voting record.
Meanwhile, Skoien is under attack in two mailers sent to nearly 10,000 households in the township over the last week.
Calling him "Guitar Hero Gary," one of the mailers cites newspaper articles about a March incident in which Skoien's wife allegedly beat him over the head with a toy guitar after finding him at home with two other women.
The mailer also features a Jay Leno joke about the incident.
Another mailer also references the incident, asking "Can you believe this guy is running again?"
Skoien's wife told police the women were prostitutes, which the police report says Gary Skoien confirmed. Skoien has since denied they were prostitutes and the police department has declined to change the official report.
Skoien was not charged with any wrongdoing.
Skoien initially pressed charges against his wife for the beating, but later failed to show up as a witness in court. Misdemeanor battery charges were dropped and a divorce is pending.
Skoien called the mailers "the same old Democratic dirty style politics that we are not used to in Palatine Township."
The mailers are paid for by longtime Skoien critic Rob Brumbaugh, who owns a marketing company in Arlington Heights. Brumbaugh spent $3,620 on mailers under the recently created campaign committee Citizens to End Corruption in Palatine Township.
"I felt it was important that people know he is on the ballot and make a decision based on his history of choices," Brumbaugh said.
It is clear the mailers are aimed at benefiting Del Mar, who said Monday he had nothing to do with them.
Del Mar has not shied from attacking Skoien over the March incident. His first news release on his campaign featured the issue.
Skoien has led the local Republican township organization since 2002 after ousting incumbent Jack Tatooles, village president of Inverness.