Two lawmakers are topping the list of contenders for the Illinois House leader position as State Rep. Tom Cross (R-Oswego) prepares to step down for a possible run for state treasurer.
Republican State Reps. Raymond Poe of Springfield and Jim Durkin of Western Springs are rumored to be the top picks for the job.
Poe says he does not see the race as one that is a downstater versus a suburbanite, but he did point out that the "biggest" difference between he and Durkin is their varying takes on pension reform.
“I’m getting a bad rap that says I’m not for pension reform,” Poe said. “I am. I just happen to support (the union-backed plan), and he supported the (Michael) Madigan plan. We’re both for reform, but it’s different reform and how we get there and how we take care of our constituents.”
After the chamber leader is chosen, Poe said his party has a set of "goals" in place that, if achieved, would help Republicans get more leverage in Springfield.
“The two main goals would be first to elect a Republican governor and secondly to pick up two or three seats so (the Democrats) are not veto-proof,” Poe said, according to the State Journal-Register. “Then we as House Republicans are back in pushing the policies and issues we’re interested in.”
Meanwhile, Durkin who says he "support[s] a meaningful pension reform bill that’s going to have significant savings", believes he has a financial advantage over Poe.
“The single most important position for the House leader is the ability to raise money,” Durkin said. “I just think I have an edge on him. There’s not a lot of money in the campaign coffers. I’ve got a relationship with the business community. You’ve got to be able to raise money in Chicago.”
Cross would like to see his successor named by October, but Illinois GOP leaders could name a replacement sooner if they so choose.