The man who will be Illinois House minority leader starting this fall has leadership credentials. “I've (run) two presidential campaigns in the state of Illinois, which was not an easy thing to do for a very unpopular guy (John McCain), very unpopular at the time,” said State Rep. Jim Durkin (R-Western Springs).
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“I was the nominee for U.S. Senate in 2002 and put together a very sparse campaign staff with little money, and I beat two multi-millionaires (Jim Oberweis and John Cox) in the primary, so I feel comfortable with my ability to organize and how to run campaigns and do it on a broader scale.”
U. S. Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) won re-election in that Senate race. While Durkin says caucus unity is the most important thing about being leader now, an important part of the job is trying to make the caucus bigger by helping Republicans around the state win House races. “You're talking about an election cycle where you have a very heated governor's race” with four Republican candidates, Durkin said. “There’s a lot of money that’s going to be placed in the governor’s race, so we have to make best use of every dollar that we have in our campaign operations.”
The caucus Thursday had, over the last few weeks, been shaping up as a race between Durkin and State Rep. Raymond Poe (R-Springfield), until Poe backed out and recommended everyone support Durkin. Poe is not worrying now about what might have been, adding, though, “I think a lot of that will settle in next week.”