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Illinois House GOP leader: 'we have allowed the far-right extremists to control the primary'

On the day he stepped down as Illinois' House Republican Leader, Jim Durkin lamented 'extremism' in the right-wing of his party and blamed them for electoral losses.

SPRINGFIELD, Illinois — On his way out of his post as the Illinois House Republican Leader, Rep. Jim Durkin (R-Western Springs) aired his grievances with "far-right extremists" and Donald Trump, both of whom he blamed for GOP losses in the midterms.

"There is so much fatigue with Donald Trump," Durkin said. "I don't think that the former president has good days ahead. And obviously him moving up his announcement to run for the presidency may have something to do with the investigation that is going on with the Department of Justice."

Durkin leaves his post with the smallest caucus in modern Illinois history. His party lost five seats to the Democrats, despite mounting a massive campaign warning the public of perceived dangers looming with the end of cash bail.

Durkin said if his party could've picked up at least three more seats, he would've stayed and run for another two-year term, but instead he stepped aside and backed Rep. Tony McCombie (R-Savanna) to lead the caucus. 

"I made a commitment to myself in the primary that I had to win 48 seats, hold on and pick up three, I fell short," he said. "We just failed miserably."

"We have allowed the far-right extremists to control the primary, also to control the messaging in Illinois," Durkin said. "And it doesn't work, particularly where I live in the suburbs. The areas that we are competing in the collar counties in the suburbs don't want extremists. They want people who have a moderate position from government. And even though we had candidates that were moderate, we were defined onto the Donald Trump and Darren Bailey narrative. And that was a failure, and it hurt us."

"We have lost so many people in the Republican Party who have turned into independents," Durkin said. "We should have learned something on Tuesday, that you cannot nominate a Darren Bailey and expect to win in the suburbs of Chicago counties when he is an extreme position on everything."

Bailey won the Republican nomination against Aurora Mayor Richard Irvin, a candidate Durkin backed for the job, but the downstate farmer lost to incumbent Democratic Governor J.B. Pritzker. 

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