Tom Cross Consolidates His Power

When Tom Cross replaced Lee Daniels as House Minority Leader, one of the changes he put forth was that he would not serve forever like Daniels did.

Ten years would be enough, thank you.

Cross has now taken the limit on his tenure as leader out of the House Republican rule book.

And, remember how Cross allowed the members to pick half the sub-leaders?

That disappeared this year, too.

Of course, a majority of the members concurred.

The more things change the more they become the same.

The longer a leader is in power, the less democratic he becomes.

I found the following in a Nov. 11, 2007, email newsletter from now-outgoing State Rep. Ruth Munson (R-Elgin):

“With the exception of the House Republicans, there are no term limits for leaders.

“Additionally, in all but the House Republican Caucus, the caucus leader appoints the entire leadership team.

“It is argued that the lack of term limits and the appointment of the entire leadership team by the caucus leader consolidates power into a handful of individuals, making it very difficult for rank and file members to influence policymaking.

“It was precisely this thinking that led to the reforms implemented by the House Republican Caucus in 2003. Individual members wanted a stronger voice and voted on new rules that limits an individual to no more than 10 years (5 terms) as leader and provides for half of the leadership team to be elected by the caucus members. These rules opened the door for more member participation in policymaking and more input into the legislative process.

“Because of these self-imposed changes, the House Republican leadership is directly accountable to caucus members (or they won’t be re-elected). The leader solicits member input before sitting down at the negotiating table and includes members in discussions about issues and policy direction.”

And newly-elected State Rep. Kay Hatcher (R-Yorkville) wrote the following in answer to an Aurora Beacon questionnaire:

“Unlike the other bodies, House Minority Leader Tom Cross has instituted a voluntary Leader term limit, which I think is a VERY healthy philosophy.

“Too much power, for too long, strangles the initiative of potential leaders, gridlocks the system and reinforces the public’s belief that Springfield sometimes does more damage than good.

“Cross has done a phenomenal job of finding common ground between members of both parties. I believe instituting a leadership term limit for the Majority and Minority Leaders for both the Senate and House would do wonders to clear the air.”

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