GOP Chairman Andy McKenna Lashes Jim Thompson and Bob Schillerstrom

A dramatic declaration of independence was issued by Illinois Republican Party Chairman Andy McKenna in Decatur on Saturday at the GOP state convention.

McKenna tongue lashed both former Governor Jim Thompson and either DuPage County Board Chairman Robert Schillerstrom or DuPage GOP Party Chairman Dan Cronin.

Taking on Thompson’s continuing show of support of incarcerated former Republican Governor George Ryan, McKenna said,

It disappoints me with a former governor lobbies the president to pardon a former governor.

No names were used, but there was certainly no doubt about the identities of the former governors to whom McKenna was referring. Thompson did not attend the convention.

McKenna then took on either DuPage County Board Chairman Robert Schillerstrom or County Republican Party Chairman and State Senator Dan Cronin for his pushing DuPage County State Senators Dan Cronin, who is DuPage County party chairman, Kirk Dillard, who just retired as party chairman and newly-elected David Millner to vote

  • to double the sales tax for the Regional Transportation Authority for the collar counties from one-fourth of a percentage point to one-half a percentage point, plus
  • impose of a new quarter of one percent sales tax to be used for law enforcement, as well as transportation purposes, as originally was envisioned.

State Senator Carol Pankau and Randy Hultgren were the only DuPage County state senators to vote against the 300% increase in the RTA sales tax.

It disappoints me when a county chairman goes to Springfield to lobby for a sales tax increase,”

McKenna said in his speech to the convention. (Since Cronin is there all the time in his role as state senator, I tend to think McKenna was talking about Schillerstrom.)

McKenna, as state party chairman, had openly and vociferously criticized Democrats for proposing the tripling of the RTA sales tax in the collar counties.

Cronin’s, Dillard’s and Millner’s flip to the tax hike side of the roll call in order to obtain more money for DuPage County State’s Attorney Joe Birkett and, presumably, the DuPage County Sheriff’s Department, undermined McKenna’s effort to differential between the Republican and Democratic Parties.

The decision by the tax hiking DuPage County Republicans obviously motivated McKenna to risk a major schism with the county whose politicians dominated legislative politics for so long under Senate President Pate Philip and House Minority Leader Lee Daniels.

DuPage County GOP Chairman Cronin was reportedly quite angered and his delegations behavior later in the convention may have been pay back for the criticism.

There was a floor effort to reverse a committee’s nomination of Pekin’s Demetra DeMonte as Republican National Committeewoman.

The incumbent Mary Jo Arndt of DuPage County had endorsed Chicago’s Carol Smith Donovan for the office. Former congressional candidate Kathy Salvi was also seeking the office, but after she lost to DeMonte, DeMonte agreed to appoint Salvi deputy national committee woman.

During a floor fight, supporters of Donovan from DuPage County were yelling,

“Roll call! Roll call!”

After the vote, which DeMonte won 358-263, I noticed the seats of the DuPage County delegation were empty.

I assume they walked out.

If Schillerstrom was the target of McKenna’s wrath, his effusive praise of subsequent speaker Joe Birkett seemed a bit strange.

Birkett was every bit as much in favor of tripling the RTA sales tax to finance his office as Schillerstrom.

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On top right, Illinois Republican State Central Committee Chairman Andy McKenna can be seen listening to the McHenry County Central Committee caucus before Saturday’s state convention in Decatur. The smaller picture of Jim Thompson was taken at the John McCain Addison rally in February. The two women are, on the right, Demetra DeMonte, Illinois’ new Republican National Committeewoman, and, to her right, Kathy Salvi, who ran second to Dave McSweeney in the 2006 8th congressional district primary election. McSweeney supported Salvi in her national committeewoman campaign. DuPage County State’s Attorney Joe Birkett can be seen to the left.

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