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Outgoing GOP Chair Pat Brady: No regrets on gay marriage support

Updated: May 7, 2013 10:24AM

Illinois GOP Chairman Pat Brady went out on a limb in support of gay marriage -- and on Tuesday, as he announced he was stepping down, he said he has no regrets about that decision.
"Absolutely not," Brady said Tuesday. "I believe 100 percent in my position on that issue, as does Sen. (Mark) Kirk."
Kirk -- the highest-ranking Republican in Illinois -- had come out out in support of gay marriage.
Brady said when he offered support earlier this year, he was speaking for himself, not the entirety of the party platform.
"That's the whole issue, are we going to allow people to have a diversity of opinions? It's that old cliche: 'my 80 percent friend is not my 20 percent enemy.' When we were working under those rules, we won. I'm very optimistic on the future, it's just this last four months were an unfortunate byproduct."
As for that future, Brady said the GOP in Illinois has a great one and the party should lean more heavily on its elected leadership -- people like Kirk, state Rep. Peter Roskam and Adam Kinzinger.
"We need to change the way things are done. It's almost like two parallel tracks, the elected leadership that's good and strong, and this party apparatus that I've been dealing with that's not in sync with what's going on," Brady said. "The political leadership has to recognize it's not 1980 anymore."
Who should take the helm, in Brady's view?
"I think it's time we need to put a different face on the party. I'd like to see a woman do it," Brady said, noting it would boost Republican chances with suburban woman. Brady said there are elected Republican woman throughout the state who would be a good fit."If I said (their names), it would probably hurt their chances," he said laughing.
"I'm saddened. Pat has been a dear friend of mine for years," said Republican state Rep. Jim Durkin. Durkin (R-Westchester) said he and Brady are 20-year friends; having worked together at 26th and California as young assistant state's attorneys. He said Brady told him of his intentions earlier on Monday.
Brady announced his resignation Tuesday morning.
"He's a fearless advocate for the Republican party. He's raised more money than any other chairman has raised in my lifetime," Durkin said. "He took on the Democratic party like no other Chairman has in my lifetime."
Brady caused a hub-bub within the Republican ranks after he came out in support of gay marriage. Conservative Republican state Sen. Jim Oberweis (R-Sugar Grove) was the chief architect behind attempts to oust Brady. Those attempts, ultimately fell short, without enough Republican backing to dethrone Brady and high-ranking GOP members -- including U.S. Sen. Mark Kirk -- coming to his defense. Oberweis has told the Sun-Times that his opposition to Brady was not due to Brady's support for gay marriage, but because Brady on his own took a position against the party platform.
For weeks, Brady had been expected to step down on his own terms.
"Pat is leaving on terms that he's imposed upon himself," said Durkin. He's got a family. He wants to spend more time and take care of his family."
Durkin wanted to make one last point: "He did not do this to advance a political career for himself," he said. "I hope people will thank him and appreciate the good things he's done. Pat is not afraid to speak up but nobody's going to bully him either."
The next big question is who will replace Brady and help lead a Republican party that has barely limped through the last couple elections.
One name that's surfaced Monday night is Cook County Commissioner Tim Schneider of Bartlett.

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