After losing its chairman because of his support for marriage equality, the Illinois Republican Party has now seen a chief candidate for his successor withdraw for the same reason.
Ron Sandack, a state representative from the Chicago suburbs, took himself out of the running for the party leadership post last week because “he had heard from a number of Republican activists, elected officials and ‘inside party people’ who suggested his public support of same-sex marriage legislation in Springfield might be too controversial for him to get the chairmanship,” Chicago public radio station WBEZ reports.
“The issue is controversial,” he told WBEZ. “And I don’t wanna be a fight, and that issue to be a fight, when we really oughta be talking about who’s best suited to be the next party chairman.” He said he did not feel pressured to withdraw, and he added that another factor was his concern about dividing his time between the chairmanship and his legislative duties.
The previous chairman, Pat Brady, resigned this month after having upset party members with his wholehearted support for the pending marriage equality legislation. He said the controversy was “a factor in my decision, but not an overriding factor,” as he wanted to spend more time with his family; his wife is suffering from ovarian cancer. But there was a good deal of pressure from more conservative factions of the party.
Sandack is one of two Republican Illinois House members to have expressed support for the marriage equality bill, the other being Rep. Ed Sullivan Jr. The state Senate passed the bill on Valentine’s Day, but it has yet to come to a vote in the House, and its chief sponsor, Rep. Greg Harris, has said he wants to make sure there are enough votes for passage before he brings it up. Gov. Pat Quinn has said he will sign it. The legislative session ends May 31.