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Jim Durkin’s Demise: Former House GOP Leader Admits Defeat Before Battle, Blaming Trump’s Influence

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Rep. Jim Durkin addressing reporters at the State Capitol. (WICS File Photo)

By Illinois Review

Former Illinois House Republican leader Jim Durkin announced this week that he was not going to run for Cook County State’s Attorney – a wide open seat after current state’s attorney Kim Foxx announced in April that she was not seeking re-election, after analyzing numbers and reviewing polling data – and blaming former President Donald Trump – the leading Republican candidate for president, on his decision not to throw his hat in the ring in next year’s race.

“I know that if you’re going to run in a race, you have to run knowing that you have a good chance of winning, and I see no path winning with Trump at the top of the ticket,” Durkin told CBS Chicago anchor Brad Edwards.

“The fact is it’s going to be a terrible time for Republicans if he is going to be at the top of the ticket, and my calculation suggested that that’s what’s going to happen.”

Durkin continued,

“With every day that goes by – we’re less than 50 days before the Iowa caucuses, and it appears that Trump is going to be the eventual nominee [for president] – that landscape in Cook County just becomes even more difficult for Republicans, knowing that Trump will be leading the ticket.”

After overseeing widespread losses that saw Illinois House Democrats strengthen their supermajority control in Springfield last November, Durkin announced that he would be stepping down as House Republican leader the day after the 2022 midterm election. Two months later, Durkin announced that he would be resigning his seat and leaving the legislature altogether.

Just days before resigning from office, Durkin was the only Republican to join the Democrats, voting in favor of the assault weapons ban – a move that angered Republicans across the state.

Even before Trump, Durkin had a history of losing. In 2002, he unsuccessfully ran for U.S. Senate, losing to incumbent Democrat U.S. Senator Dick Durbin by a staggering 22 points.

From 2013-2023, Durkin served as the House Republican Leader where he maintained his party’s status in the minority.

Incoming IL House GOP Minority Leader Jim Durkin, R-Western Springs in 2013. (Photo credit: Associated Press)

In 2012, the year before Durkin was elected minority leader, there were 54 House Republicans; when Durkin stepped down as leader and resigned from the legislature in 2023, there were only 40 House Republicans.

Durkin was also an early supporter of the failed Richard Irvin campaign for governor in 2022, and was highlighted on the original endorsement list.

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.”

Irvin would go on to lose the primary election by an astonishing 43 points despite then Chicago-based billionaire Ken Griffin dumping $50 million into his campaign and racking up over 60 endorsements from IL GOP leaders from across the state – including Durkin.

While Durkin has ruled out running for Cook County State’s Attorney, he has not ruled out another run for political office in the future.

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