Illinois GOP still hasn’t replaced top Party official

By DOUG IBENDAHL • July 15, 2011


It’s been exactly three months now since Craig Pesek, 34, resigned as the State Central Committeeman for the 4th U.S. Congressional District.


However, not only does Pesek’s former spot on the State Central Committee remain vacant, our State GOP has not even scheduled a meeting for the committeemen to choose a replacement. The four year term of the office runs to 2014.


One official from each of Illinois’ 19 Congressional Districts is supposed to represent the district’s Republicans within the Illinois Republican Party. And in case you’re wondering, even though Illinois loses a congressional seat next year, Illinois law makes it clear that our State GOP keeps 19 State Central Committeemen until their terms expire in 2014. So there is absolutely no excuse for not filling the Pesek vacancy.


Craig Pesek stepped down from the 4th District post on April 15th – just days after the Chicago Sun-Times published its explosive report: Cicero officials linked to criminals.


Many GOP insiders had long been aware of the concerns surrounding Pesek, but no official lifted a finger to pressure him off the State Central Committee until the Chicago Sun-Times turned up the heat in April.


It’s a safe bet that Republican voters residing in the 4th Congressional were receiving less than ideal representation at the State Party while Pesek was in the office. But they have a right to have a representative on the State Central Committee and Pat Brady as party chairman has a duty to get the replacement process going. Maybe Republicans there can get a decent representative for a change. Hope springs eternal.


While state law doesn’t dictate a specific deadline for filling a vacancy on the State Central Committee, it’s my recollection that in the past such vacancies were typically filled within 30 days. We’re now two months beyond that with no end in sight.


It’s also beyond embarrassing for Pat Brady and others to suddenly now pretend they’re concerned about Hispanic representation just for the sake of a desperate lawsuit challenging the statewide remap – when we’re not even trying to provide proper representation for Hispanics within our own State GOP organization.


The 4th Congressional District is in fact the most Hispanic in the state by far. Approximately three-quarters of the residents there are Hispanic and that percentage is almost certainly on the rise. What that means is that a very large proportion of the Hispanics in the State of Illinois lack proper representation within the Illinois Republican Party. Pat Brady and the other members of his committee don’t seem to care.


Speaking of embarrassments, while it’s great that Craig Pesek was finally pressured to step down from his senior position in the State GOP, he retains a top position in the Cook County GOP. Pesek remains the Cicero Township GOP Committeeman, one of only 80 GOP committeeman positions in all of Cook County. Lee Roupas, 28, Cook County GOP Chairman, still refuses to call for his buddy’s resignation from the county’s GOP leadership board.


Roupas’ refusal to clean up the county organization he chairs means that if the State Party did convene the eligible committeemen to replace Pesek, Pesek would have a big say in replacing himself on the State Central Committee. As long as Pesek remains the Cicero Township GOP Committeeman, he’ll have something close to a controlling weighted vote in choosing the State Central Committeeman for the 4th Congressional District.


And some people still wonder why Republicans keep blowing so many winnable races in Illinois.


Doug Ibendahl is a Chicago Attorney and a former General Counsel of the Illinois Republican Party.


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