Long-time Republican Party political leader Al Jourdan died on Saturday.
Jourdan was elected McHenry County Republican Party Chairman in 1968, following Ted Wickham.
Two years later, after Richard Ogilvie had been elected Governor, he asked Republican Precinct Committeemen if they thought he should accept the position of Deputy Patronage Chief with the Ogilvie Administration. (Donald Udsteun had asked for his assistance.)
As Ogilvie’s term was expiring, Jourdan decided to run for McHenry County Auditor to replace Jack Schaffer, who was running for State Senator.
Both won as Ogilvie was defeated by Democrat Dan Walker.
Jourdan controlled the McHenry County Republican Central Committee until he passed the reins to Jack Schaffer in 1998.
“For thirty years we had what I call Pax Jourdan in the county,” Schaffer said.
“He was able to keep the party unified, avoid blood baths in primaries and McHenry was always one of the best Republican counties in the state.
“The other thing people didn’t realize was because of his role as State Chairman and Chairman of the County Chairman’s Association, he was one of the first four or five people anyone thinking about running for statewide office would call and that gave our area a lot more clout than our area would have otherwise had.”
Both Schaffer and I were happy to let Jourdan handle the patronage part of the political game.
Jourdan pretty much ran the GOP out of his courthouse office.
He had a private phone installed and had a stack of phone messages next to his desk that was several feet high. (I suggested he send them to the Northern Illinois Historical Library, that they would provide a wealth of information for future historians, but my guess is that he tossed them.)
During the Jim Thompson years, Jourdan became State Republican Party Chairman.
One policy victory he achieved was turning the freeway that was planned to run from Lake County north of McHenry to the Wisconsin line into a tollway.
None of the legislators from McHenry County voted for that change.
After stepping down from county Republican leadership, he became a Springfield lobbyist.
Funeral arrangements are pending at Justen Funeral Home on Bull Valley Road in McHenry.