New House GOP leader takes reins

2013-09-23T18:00:00Z 2013-09-23T20:45:09Z New House GOP leader takes reinsKurt Ercikson Lee Springfield Bureau nwitimes.com
September 23, 2013 6:00 pm  • 

SPRINGFIELD | A suburban Chicago man formally took over Monday as the new minority leader in the Illinois House.

With the exodus of former House Minority Leader Tom Cross, who is leaving the House to run for state treasurer in 2014, state Rep. Jim Durkin, R-Western Springs, assumed the top spot in the 47-member GOP organization.

He faces a number of early decisions in the new post, including appointing his leadership team.

Along with Cross’ departure, Deputy Republican Leader Tim Schmitz, of Batavia, is not seeking re-election in 2014. Republican Caucus Chairman Mike Bost, of Murphysboro, also won’t be back. He is seeking a seat in Congress representing the 12th district.

State Reps. Dan Brady, of Bloomington, and Bill Mitchell, of Forsyth, are among those currently serving as assistant Republican leaders.

A Durkin spokeswoman said leadership decisions will be made in the coming months.

Durkin, an attorney, served in the Illinois House of Representatives from 1995 through 2002 until he became the Republican nominee for U.S. Senate.

He returned to the General Assembly in 2006 when he was elected to represent the 82nd District, a position he currently holds.

Durkin received his bachelor’s degree from Illinois State University and his law degree from John Marshall Law School.

In a prepared statement, Durkin said he hopes Republican ideas can be heard in a chamber dominated by the 71-member Democratic majority.

“Illinois is a great state facing serious challenges,” he said. “Like our neighbors, we want safe schools and neighborhoods, and an end to government corruption. We want to restore pride in Illinois — working together we can get the job done.”

Durkin praised Cross, an Oswego lawmaker who served as minority leader for a decade.

“Tom Cross was a good leader. I wish him the best in his future endeavors and thank him for service to our caucus,” Durkin said.

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