Embroiled in an intraparty fight over his support for gay marriage, Illinois GOP Chairman Pat Brady stepped down on Tuesday as leader of the state party.
Brady has been facing heat from the more conservative wing of his party for months, ever since he announced his support for same sex marriage legislation before the state legislature earlier this year.
"More and more Americans understand that if two people want to make a lifelong commitment to each other, government should not stand in their way," Brady said in January. "Giving gay and lesbian couples the freedom to get married honors the best conservative principles. It strengthens families and reinforces a key Republican value—that the law should treat all citizens equally."
A state party’s platform specified that marriage was between a man and a woman, and Brady said his show of support was simply his personal viewpoint. But the damage had been done with the more conservative wing of the party. While Brady survived in the immediate aftermath of his statements, according to the Chicago Tribune, an exit strategy was plotted last month for Brady to step down.
In his departing letter, Brady made no direct mention of the growing tensions over same-sex marriage within the state GOP. Instead, Brady outlined the success the party had since his tenure began in 2010 – most notably wins that year for Republican Mark Kirk in President Obama’s open Senate seat, picking up four congressional districts and two statewide constitutional offices.
But such successful Republicans, like Kirk, in the Land of Lincoln have typically had a more moderate streak. Kirk is one of only two GOP senators who has announced his support for gay marriage.
But that cycle was the high watermark for the party. In 2012, the GOP lost three congressional seats after Democrats redrew congressional lines in their favor. At least two of those members ousted – Republicans Bob Dold and Bobby Schilling – could run again in 2014.