CRAIN’S: Illinois GOP regroups after ‘real stunner’ of an election


Did Illinois Democrats win the election, or did Illinois Republicans lose it?


Or has the Land of Lincoln, once a bellwether state in the presidential race and controlled by Republican governors for decades, simply turned into a Democratic stronghold like Massachusetts?


With veto-proof Democratic majorities in the state House and Senate, and a greater-than-feared loss of congressional seats, Illinois Republicans are grappling with fundamental questions about the party’s future.


The party’s leadership, what the party stands for, what kind of candidates it recruits and how it runs campaigns are all going to be re-evaluated, party officials said the day after the election.


“Clearly, we’ve got to do things differently,” Illinois Republican Party Chairman Patrick Brady said. “We can’t have results like we had last night and continue to do the same thing.”


Some GOP activists think a change in party leadership is called for, starting with Mr. Brady. “Brady and crew must resign,” said Doug Ibendahl, a former general counsel of the party who has unsuccessfully tried to change how party leaders are selected to give the rank and file more say.


Mr. Brady said he is weighing whether he should step down and has discussed with U.S. Sen. Mark Kirk, R-Ill., the state’s highest-ranking GOP official, “what he thinks is best for the party,” Mr. Brady said. “I’m head of the party, and I certainly take responsibility,” but no decisions have been made.


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