How GOP will replace outgoing Illinois House leader Durkin

Suburban GOP leaders have 30 days to decide who will replace former Illinois House Minority Leader Jim Durkin of Western Springs, who resigned from his House seat unexpectedly this weekend after recently winning reelection.

Durkin, who gave up his House leadership post in November after Republicans lost more legislative seats in the 2022 elections, was the lone House Republican to vote in favor of a ban on high-powered weapons sales before announcing his resignation.

Now, Republican leaders from DuPage and Will counties will meet with GOP heads from four suburban Cook County townships to discuss how to go about replacing the 13-term legislator.

"Everybody is trying to figure what the process is before we start moving forward," said DuPage County GOP Chairman Jim Zay. "I imagine we'll all hop on a Zoom chat in the next couple days to discuss it."

There's been no word yet on how potential replacements can apply. Zay said he didn't have anyone specifically in mind to replace Durkin, and no one has reached out to him seeking consideration.

"We only found out about it a day ago," he said.

Durkin's 82nd House District is in parts of the three counties.

Officials from the Illinois State Board of Elections said the county party chairmen from DuPage and Will as well as the party chairmen from Lyons, Lemont, Orland and Palos townships in Cook County will form a "managing committee." All six members of the committee will cast "weighted votes based on the number of votes Durkin received in their precincts in the November election."

Durkin received 33,625 votes in November. Of those votes, 14,895 came from DuPage County voters, 1,351 from Will County and 17,379 from Cook County, according to state election board records.

However, the township breakdown in Cook County was largely split between Lyons and Lemont. Lyons Township voters cast 8,220 votes for Durkin, while 7,461 Lemont Township voters cast ballots for him. Another 888 ballots for Durkin were cast in Orland Township and 810 in Palos Township.

DuPage County Republicans have the weightiest vote among the six on the managing committee at 44.3%.

Zay, a longtime county board member, said he plans to discuss potential replacements with Downers Grove Republican state Sen. John Curran, whose district covers Durkin's.

Durkin was first elected to the Illinois House in 1994. He was considered a moderate conservative for most of his career. In recent years, he has lamented the shift to the far right the state party has undergone.

When he announced in November he was stepping down from his leadership post after nine years, he blamed former President Donald Trump for the party's poor showing in elections nationally and statewide.

"The Trump factor went too far, and I believe that that was what interrupted part of this red wave," Durkin said at the time.

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