St. Clair County Republicans lose ground to southern Illinois leader

Ann Knef Aug. 11, 2005, 10:44am

Steve Reeb

Brad Cole

Gary Graham

Erin Zweigart

After decades of carrying the voice for southern Illinois Republicans, the Metro-East lost its leadership reign over the 12th Congressional District.

County Republican chairmen from throughout the 11-county district gathered at Fischer's Restaurant in Belleville Wednesday and unanimously elected Carbondale Mayor Brad Cole as state central committeeman.

Shoe-in Mike McGlynn, the St. Clair County Republican Chairman who carried a whopping 40 percent of the weighted vote--and who was expected to vote for himself and win, surprised many by throwing his support to Cole.

McGlynn is the brother of newly appointed 5th Appellate Court Judge Stephen McGlynn--who held the state central committeeman position until he was recommended by Illinois Supreme Court Justice Lloyd Karmeier to fill the court vacancy.

"St. Clair County dropped the ball," said O'Fallon Mayor Gary Graham, who at one time was in contention for the position.

Graham removed his name from consideration when the contest became a three-way one.

"The St. Clair County chairman obviously didn't intend to stay in the race," Graham said. "If he had dropped out there would have been other people interested in running."

One of those other people is St. Clair County Board member Steve Reeb, a Republican from Swansea who narrowly lost the county board chairman's race to Democrat Mark Kern in November.

"Sometimes you have to fight for the things you believe in," he said.
"This is something we should have hung onto."

Reeb said he would have considered running for state central committeeman.

"This is a dramatic turn of events for Southern Illinois," reported the Downstate Pundit Weblog on Thursday. "The base of 12th Congressional District power has traditionally been held in St. Clair County."

St. Clair County is the most populous county in the congressional district.

The site included comments from the newly elected Cole.

"This is a great opportunity for the Republican Party to reshape its focus in deep southern Illinois and I am excited to have the unanimous support and confidence of the county chairmen involved in this process," Cole remarks on the Downstate Pundit. "There is much work to do from this point forward, and I look forward to the challenge."

The Downstate Pundit also reported that former congressional candidate Erin Zweigart would become Cole's deputy.

On the record, McGlynn only offered that Cole's election "can be a good thing" for the congressional district.

"Brad Cole is a good man, experienced in politics and he will do a good job," McGlynn said.

McGlynn said he was very content in his role as managing partner of the McGlynn & McGlynn law firm in Belleville.

"I don't want to politicize my depolitization," he said.

Former St. Clair County Republican Chairman Joe Behnken was furious about the election outcome.

"I am livid," he said. "That Mike McGlynn basically blocked Mayor Graham at a shot at this. He should have stepped aside."

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