Illinois House republicans are gathering to elect a new leader on Thursday following a summer of internal squabbling while the current caucus chief debated his political future.
The 1 p.m. meeting at Springfield’s Statehouse Inn follows House republican leader Tom Cross’ announcement last week that he would be stepping down from his post to run for treasurer.
Cross had originally told members on a conference call he planned to keep his leadership post through October, but gave the caucus an option of holding an earlier election.
Two candidates are actively seeking the job: state reps. Jim Durkin of Western Springs and Raymond Poe of Springfield.
Durkin, an unsuccessful U.S. Senate candidate elected to the state house in 2006, said his ability to raise money and work with lawmakers on both sides of the aisle will make him an effective leader.
Poe, an 18-year veteran of the House, told the State Journal-Register that republicans need to not only win back the governor’s mansion, but pick up enough House seats in 2014 so democrats will no longer have a veto-proof majority. Democrats currently control the house 71-47.
According to house caucus rules, a majority of republican members’ votes — 24 — are needed to elect a new leader.