After Rep. Jim Durkin announced that he would step down as the leader of the Illinois House Republicans, the party has chosen its new chair, tapping Rep. Tony McCombie for the position.
McCombie, who will represent the 89th district in the new General Assembly, was one of the early favorites to ascend to the position, according to Politico, and she was voted into the office during a caucus meeting on Tuesday.
“The House Republican Caucus is focused on helping Illinois families by offering common sense solutions to the many problems our state faces,” she said in a statement. “We will be a unified force that will grow our party by sticking to our core values and ending the corruption that has pervaded state government.”
McCombie is the former mayor of Savanna, with party leadership praising her ability to balance budgets before being elected to the General Assembly in 2016.
She previously headed up the campaign arm of the House Republican caucus, and she is currently the party’s spokesperson on the Restorative Justice Committee.
She ran unopposed in the November election, beating Republican Victoria Onorato in the primary.
Her new district is in the northwestern corner of the state, and includes Galena and Freeport.
Illinois Comptroller Susana Mendoza, who was recently reelected to her post, issued a statement offering congratulations to McCombie, citing her work on helping Democrats to override former Gov. Bruce Rauner’s veto of the Debt Transparency Act in 2017.
“Risking the wrath of a vengeful governor from her own party after he vetoed the bill, Rep. McCombie assisted in marshaling the votes of Republicans to help us unanimously override the governor’s veto in the House,” she said. “Ratings agencies have regularly cited that very reform in their upgrades of Illinois’ creditworthiness. Leader-elect McCombie has shown real leadership when it matters.”
McCombie now replaces Durkin, who left his leadership post after Democrats strengthened their supermajority in the House in the midterm elections. Durkin says that the party needs to find a more centrist voice, and that Republicans “need to move on from Donald Trump” if they want to regain power in the state.
“We need to move on. We need to move on from Donald Trump. We need to make a clean break. Hit the reset button. Understand how we got here,” he said.
McCombie gained notoriety earlier this year after she refused to wear a mask on the floor of the House in violation of the chamber’s rules, according to videos posted by KSDK Political Editor Mark Maxwell.
On the legislative side, McCombie has also cosponsored legislation that would seek to remove Chicago from Illinois and establish the city as its own state, and she also has proposed legislation to repeal the “SAFE-T Act,” which will eliminate cash bail from the state’s criminal justice system on Jan. 1.