By Illinois Review
Local Illinois Republican leaders from the 82nd House District have selected Lemont Mayor John Egofske to fill the vacant House seat left by former House Republican Minority Leader Jim Durkin, who resigned and left office in early January.
Egofske was elected mayor of Lemont in 2017, and his party affiliation on the Illinois State Board of Elections website is listed as an Independent.
In 2020, Egofske endorsed Democratic US Rep. Daniel Lipinski and on October 22, 2022, just weeks before the midterm election, Egofske endorsed Illinois Democratic State Rep. Larry Walsh, Jr., a member of Democratic House Speaker Chris Welch’s leadership team – where he serves as Downstate Caucus Whip, saying,
“Regardless of partisan politics, it’s all about getting things done, and I have seen first hand that Larry Walsh Jr gets things done.”
Sources confirm to Illinois Review that Durkin wrote a letter of support to the committee, expressing his support for Egofske to replace him in the Illinois House of Representatives.
In announcing the formation of the committee tasked with finding Durkin’s replacement, DuPage Republican Chairman Jim Zay said,
“Leader Durkin has been a tremendous advocate for our region and state, and we thank him for his extraordinary service. Our committee looks forward to a transparent and thorough process to fill this important position.”
In addition to Zay, the committee includes Tim Ozinga (Will Co.), Michael Shackel (Lemont Twp.), Terrance Carr (Lyons Twp.), Cindy Nelson Katsenes (Orland Twp.) and Sean Morrison (Palos Twp.).
The vote is weighted, with Zay’s vote having the most influence on the committee (44%). Carr, 24%; Shackel, 22%; Ozinga, 4%; Katsenes, 3%; and Morrison, 2%.
During the Republican primary, Durkin, Morrison, Ozinga and Zay endorsed Richard Irvin’s campaign for governor.
But in previous elections, Irvin not only pulled Democratic Primary ballots in 2014, 2016 and 2020, but he also spent years praising Democratic Gov. JB Pritzker – referring to him as a “great friend and a great leader.”
And in 2020, Irvin attended a Black Lives Matter rally, yelling, “I can’t breathe!”
During the midterm election, Durkin suffered embarrassing losses, giving House Democrats once again, supermajority control in the Illinois House.
In media interviews after announcing his resignation as House GOP leader the day after the midterms, Durkin attempted to place all of the blame on the 45th President of the United States Donald Trump.
“As long as we continue to say that we are the party of Trump and that we have to abide by the party principles in the platform, 100% we’re gonna continue down this path of losing.”
When Durkin announced that he was resigning from his seat in the legislature in January, he once again blamed Trump for Illinois’ losses, saying,
“I hope that at some point in the near future, and I think we’re getting there, that the party breaks its fever of Donald Trump and understands and learns from the past. Some people will never get there.”
Durkin then suggested that pro-life and 2nd Amendment issues were “dragging” the Republican party down.
“So I would just say the sooner that the public realizes that he’s not value added to the Republican Party, we can start looking at what this party used to be about. A party that didn’t insist upon this purity test. A party that is a fiscally conservative first of all, certainly, but we can have a fair and respectful debate within the party on issues related to the Second Amendment, to life and these other social issues, that have been dragging us down in areas that we have to compete in — mainly the suburbs and the collar counties.”
In the last few months, Illinois Review has published several articles about Durkin using his political influence to target conservative grassroots candidates during the Illinois Primary.
Sources also confirmed to Illinois Review that the IL GOP is blaming Durkin for the party’s postage discount abuse, where mailers “Paid for by the Republican Party of Illinois” were sent during the primary to viciously attack conservative Republican grassroots candidates that were challenging Durkin’s friends and political allies.
And in January, before he resigned from the legislature, Durkin was the only Republican to join the Democrats, voting in favor of the assault weapons ban.
Attorney and former Illinois Attorney General candidate Thomas DeVore has filed multiple lawsuits challenging the constitutionality of the assault weapons ban on the equal protection clause, and so far, Judges in Effingham and White Counties, and the 5th District Appellate Court view the equal protection clause as the most credible argument in the case – and a literal “silver bullet” for DeVore and his plaintiffs.
In another blow to Illinois Gov. JB Pritzker’s assault weapons ban, and following the directive of the Appellate Court, White County Judge T. Scott Webb on Thursday granted DeVore’s motion for a temporary restraining order (TRO), halting the ban while the lawsuit proceeds.
The lawsuit raises the same claims as the one filed in Effingham County, where Judge Joshua Morrison granted the first TRO and names Gov. JB Pritzker, State Senate President Don Harmon, D, Illinois House Speaker Christopher Welch, D, and Attorney General Kwame Raoul, D, as defendants.
The lawsuit filed in White County by DeVore includes over 1,600 plaintiffs, including former Illinois State Senator and Republican nominee for governor Darren Bailey; 68 federal firearms dealers and covers 92 counties.
On Tuesday, 5th District Appellate Court affirmed Effingham County’s TRO and goes beyond the original 866 plaintiffs in the original lawsuit, and is now binding precedent on all lower courts statewide.
While I thank you for the coverage of the appointment of John Egofske by Republican leaders including DuPage County Republican Chairman Jim Zay and Will County Republican Chairman Tim Ozinga, plus several Cook County Republican township committeepersons, the initial coverage by Illinois Review breaking this story has some gaps.
First, I don’t care if John Egofske is listed as the “mayor” of Lemont on the village’s website, Egofske is the village president of a village with a 2020 Census population of 17,765, or less than 18K residents.
I know, the terms “village president” and “mayor” are used interchangeably in statute, but a “city” has a “mayor”, and a “village” has a “president”, just as a city has a “city council” and a village has a “board of trustees”.
Self-importance/big city title aside, here are some things Illinois Review missed.
The Illinois State Board of Elections listing John Egofske’s election in 2017 is NOT a political party affiliation. The village of Lemont, with a population of over 5K and being incorporated for over 30 years, uses a “partisan” election for municipal officials. As with most suburban cities/villages using the partisan method for electing their municipal leaders, candidates seek election as an “independent” on the ballot, which is what Egofske did in 2017 for the open village presidency, winning election with 58% of the vote.
In 2021, Village President Egofske ran unopposed for reelection, and his village clerk and trustees running mates ran under the political party of “Party of Lemont”, as a new political party. All three offices were uncontested. Therefore, Egofske did NOT seek reelection as an independent, but on the local political “Party of Lemont”.
While established political parties (Republicans or Democrats) could run candidates as Republicans and Democrats in the village of Lemont, like most suburban municipalities over 5K population, the major parties sit-out the municipal races, as is the case in the village of Lemont.
Note, the cities of Aurora, Naperville, Woodstock and Crystal Lake use a “nonpartisan” method of electing mayor and city council members. That portion of statute does not apply to the village of Lemont.
The village of Oswego, under the leadership of Kendall County Republican Party Chairman James Marter, reverted to a Republican vs. Democrat partisan village elections beginning in 2017. Continuing in 2019 and 2021, Republicans have been elected and have complete control of the Oswego village board.
In 2023, more Republican candidates filed and necessitated the need for a February 28 Republican primary for the voters of the village of Oswego, with a contested primary for both village president and village trustees.
The February 28 primary winners will face a Democratic slate on the April 4 ballot. Oswego is the exception concerning suburban municipalities with growing Republican involvement, and Jim Marter has found a way to build a Republican bench by having candidates run as Republicans in municipal elections (it should be noted one of the village trustees seeking reelection this year is Jim Marter’s son).
Getting back to newly minted state Representative John Egofske, given he endorsed then-Congressman Dan Lipinski (D) in the 2020 Democratic primary, one of the last pro-life Democrats in the U.S. House, by itself is not a cause for concern. I was pulling for Congressman Henry Cuellar (D, TX) to win his Democrat primary and primary runoff last year because he was being challenged due to his pro-life stance, as well as his consistent opposition to Big Labor congressional legislation. In the general, I did back his Republican challenger Casandra Garcia, but Cuellar is an institution in South Texas, and he won last fall in a very expensive, high-profile race.
It’ll be more interesting to see the result of pulling John Egofske’s voting history from the Cook County clerk’s office, and see where he cast ballots in even-year primaries. If he cast a Democrat ballot in 2020 alone to back the pro-life Lipinski, that by itself is not a strike issue. If he’s like Aurora Mayor Richard Irvin, and has consistently pulled Democratic ballots last year, and years prior, that is a difference maker which should come up in the primary campaign for March of 2024. We don’t know until the voting history for Egofske is pulled and I have the feeling Illinois Review will break that story, too.
Finally, the bigger question, is Egofske going to resign his elected office of village president prior to being sworn-in as a state representative next week? Legally, Egofske could do both, but that will come back and haunt him if he faces a primary challenger next year, and even the mainstream media takes a dim view of legal double-dipping as an elected official for two different offices.
In an article published Sunday evening (2/5/23), the Daily Herald stated the following concerning state Representative John Egofske:
“Egofske, who will continue to serve as mayor…”
So the question is answered. Egofske will NOT resign as village president of Lemont, but will serve in both offices. That is a legitimate issue in the primary, and the Daily Herald in their editorial board endorsements do NOT endorse candidates who hold two elected offices at the same time, in spite of state law preventing getting paid for each at the same time.
A serious primary challenger to Egofske has an opening if they pursue the 82nd District seat next year.
The Herald also added Egofske will not take a state pension, and added he is a registered CPA.