Call him “House Minority Leader Durkin.” State Representative Jim Durkin was elected Thursday by his Republican colleagues as their new House leader.
The new Republican leader is from the Cook County village of Western Springs. He’s an attorney and has served twice in the Illinois House: from 1994 to 2002, and from 2006 to today. In between, he ran unsuccessfully for U.S. Senate.
The man expected to challenge Durkin in today’s vote was Raymond Poe of Springfield – but he dropped out of contention before the vote was taken, saying it was for the sake of party unity. In fact, Poe nominated Durkin for the leadership role in the closed-door meeting. Durkin says he’ll work to unite House Republicans, despite some sharp differences on social issues.
“We have a very diverse caucus, but you know, we're going to use that diversity to our advantage this next coming cycle. I'm excited about the prospects of the future.”
The current Republican House leader is Tom Cross, who is stepping down to run for State Treasurer. Durkin joins the influential group of state lawmakers known as “The Four Tops”: Democratic House Speaker Michael Madigan, Democratic Senator John Cullerton, and Republican Senator Christine Radogno.
Illinois Public Radio's Amanda Vinicky contributed to this report.