State GOP head rejects call for bipartisanship

Schneider says ‘our state cannot afford’ new programs, spending

State Republican Party Chairman Timothy Schneider rallies supporters on Governor’s Day at the State Fair in August. (One Illinois/Ted Cox)

State Republican Party Chairman Timothy Schneider rallies supporters on Governor’s Day at the State Fair in August. (One Illinois/Ted Cox)

By Ted Cox

With Gov. J.B. Pritzker in office, it’s not necessarily a new day for everyone in state politics.

The head of the Illinois Republican Party rejected Pritzker’s call for bipartisanship stated in his inaugural address Monday.

Party Chairman Timothy Schneider issued a statement in response calling the new governor’s plans “the same agenda that has dragged our state down for decades — borrow, tax, spend, repeat.”

Schneider added, “Over the course of the election and again today, Pritzker promised billions of dollars in new spending, programs, and regulations, all of which our state cannot afford.”

Pritzker did reassert his support for new programs including a major capital spending bill for much-needed statewide infrastructure, but also pledged to “propose, debate, and pass a balanced budget this year” with Republican support.

Pritzker made a point of inviting Republican General Assembly leaders Sen. Bill Brady and Rep. Jim Durkin to his home over the holidays, including their Democratic counterparts House Speaker Michael Madigan and Sen. John Cullerton, and of meeting Republican state legislators after they were sworn in last week.

Rich Miller’s Capitol Fax reported that Schneider’s state GOP predecessor, Pat Brady, also urged a bipartisan approach with Pritzker’s inauguration.

But Schneider basically served as Gov. Bruce Rauner’s GOP leader, and although he advocated bipartisanship over the summer during the campaign, he rejected Pritzker’s olive branch this week.

Schneider said Pritzker offered nothing on term limits for legislative leaders, nor on gerrymandering, two issues he believes are key.

Pritzker, however, was not about to undercut Madigan, and many others believe that gerrymandering is an issue that has to be addressed nationwide, with little incentive for Democrats to give up the power to draw legislative maps in the minority of states they control while Republicans stand pat across the rest.

Citing the state’s continuing population drop, Schneider said, “Over the coming weeks and months, we will hold Pritzker, Madigan, Cullerton, and all Democrats accountable for their false promises because we know that they are the main culprits behind Illinois’s fiscal demise. We won’t be afraid to speak out against the latest policy disasters Illinois Democrats are embracing.”

It’s worth noting, however, that Schneider, like Rauner, lost his bid for re-election, as a northwest suburban Cook County commissioner, in November. He is also said to be facing a possible challenge for state party leadership from the Ricketts family that owns the Chicago Cubs. Pete Ricketts is the Republican governor of Nebraska.