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Pro-gay marriage Republican Ron Sandack withdraws from GOP Chair contention


Ron Sandack

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Updated: June 18, 2013 7:46AM

A Republican candidate who appeared to be building support among party members to become the next Illinois GOP chairman announced Wednesday he was out of the running.

State Rep. Ron Sandack (R-Downers Grove) — one of two Illinois House Republicans who has backed a gay marriage bill — told the Chicago Sun-Times he withdrew his name after doing the math and realizing he just didn’t have the needed number of votes from the Republican Central Committee.

He said he also feared that as an elected official, his votes — potentially on gay marriage and beyond — were in line with his district but not necessarily with the central committee.

Finally, Sandack said he didn’t want same-sex marriage to define the next GOP leader.

“I think the most important part of the job needs to be a rebranding of Republicans in Illinois,” Sandack said Wednesday. “We need to be far more inclusionary…not many people are fond of us.”

The party is in need of a leader after the conservative faction of the central committee pushed out former Chair Pat Brady, following his support for same-sex marriage. The schism continues to haunt the party as it heads into campaign season for the 2014 statewide races, including for governor. Illinois GOP leader and onetime governor contender Ron Gidwitz last week called out the conservative faction of the party’s central committee, telling the Chicago Sun-Times its ousting of Brady was ill-planned the fallout was “destroying” the embattled GOP’s chances in next year’s election.

“How stupid is this! The lack of thoughtful, leadership ... The state central committee is responsible for the leadership of our party. To push out the party chairman with no plan for a replacement — it is absurd,” Gidwitz said last week.

Sandack’s departure leaves eight others in the running including: lobbyist Jack Dorgan, Angel Garcia, president of Chicago Young Republicans; businessman Jim Nalepa, Cook County Commissioner Tim Schneider, Lake County attorney Mark Shaw, Don Tracy, brother-in-law to Jil Tracy, a state representative from Quincy. Joe Walsh, a one-term suburban Tea Party congressman and Lori Yokoyama — unsuccessful Cook County State’s Attorney candidate.

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