Cook County GOP Chair Race

-By Warner Todd Huston

Lee Roupas is now the Retiring Cook County GOP Party Chairman and that means the race is on. It looks like we have at least three people with their hats thrown in the ring to succeed Roupas.

The most well known is Ruth O’Connell, currently a Republican committeeman of Wheeling Township as well as an elected Township Trustee not to mention the main power behind the Republicans of Wheeling Township.

Ruth has been a tireless organizer of the Wheeling area and has built a very active GOP organization. Due to her work, the Wheeling area has won a lot of weighted votes in the Cook County GOP organization. In fact, her township has the highest GOP weighted vote of any other township or ward in the county.

O’Connell has won the Illinois GOP’s Henry Hyde award for her party building work and during the 2010 election her township organization was a model effort of GOP electioneering.

It is thought by party handicappers that O’Connell is the odds on favorite to take the chair. Dan Patlak of the Cook County Board of Review has come out in support of her and word has it that GOP state Chair Pat Brady would be good with an O’Connell Chairmanship.

The next most well known is Cook County Commissioner Liz Gorman.

Gorman, an Orland Park resident, was elected to the Cook County Board in 2002 and heads up the Suburban Caucus of the County Board, elected by her fellow commissioners to that post.

You might recall the little controversy earlier this year when Orland Park Village Trustee Patricia Gira published a scurrilous attack on Gorman? Gorman fired off a very direct reply to Gira’s attacks.

Of course, many folks imagined that Gorman was the real power behind Roupas as she was his advocate in the party. Regardless, she is herself now making the effort to step up into the next circle of GOP operatives.

Sig Vaznelis of the running for the chair. Vaznelis was a supporter of the losing candidate for the Cook County Board of Review, Sean Morrison who lost to Dan Patlak in 2010. That was a bad pick, but he made up for it by being a supporter of SB 600.

Vaznelis is a CEO at Morris Engineering and Surveying of Lisle and serves as the Lemont Township Community Road Commissioner.

The last candidate is sort of a newbie to GOP area politics. Newly elected Palatine Committeeman Aaron Del Mar is running a quixotic campaign from the point that he’s relatively unknown in party politics. Del Mar is a very young fellow, so presumably he has many more years ahead of him to grow his reputation in the party. And Del Mar, does indeed have a long way to go. When he ran for committeeman in 2010 it was discovered he’d never voted Republican in his life until he ran for Palatine Committeeman. In fact, Del Mar held a fundraiser for Hillary Clinton in 2008.

But Del Mar, regardless of his past, beat long-time committeeman Gary Skoien after Skoien got caught taking up with prostitutes in his own home. As the old saying goes, a ham sandwich could have beaten Skoien in 2010!

So this is the field of candidates to replace Chairman Roupas. Representatives of the 50 wards and 30 townships in Cook County will get together and chose the next chair from these candidates on Sept. 15 at the Parthenon Restaurant in Chicago.

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