Only Republican alderman laments GOP's absence from new council

Doherty blames lack of help from state, county parties

April 13, 2011

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(WBEZ/file)
Pat Brady chairs the Illinois Republican Party.

There will be no Republicans on the newly elected Chicago City Council, and a retiring GOP alderman is putting some blame for that on party officials.

Alderman is a non-partisan job, but party labels still matter. Ald. Brian Doherty, a 41st Ward Republican, hand-picked his aide, Maurita Gavin, to replace him, though she lost the election. With no Republicans winning council seats, Doherty said the party loses a bully pulpit.

"They didn't offer any assistance to us at all, I think shows very poorly on the Republican leadership in the state level, county level," Doherty said Wednesday.

Doherty said party officials did not return phone calls during the campaign, but the heads of the state and county parties said Wednesday they never got those calls.

"We think it's important that we do field candidates in these city council races, and we need more Republican representation on the city council," said Pat Brady, chair of the Illinois GOP. "And that's what we're working towards."

As for resources, Brady said there is only so much money to go around.

"Certainly I would like to give our candidates as much support as possible, and we do the best job we can and we've done a lot in the last couple years. But, you know, we don't have everything we need sometimes," Brady said, adding that the party offers its database of voter information to all Republican candidates.

The head of the Cook County Republican Party, Lee Roupas, noted that his group did get involved in a different aldermanic race. Roupas said it donated $500 and recruited volunteers for 45th Ward candidate John Garrido. Garrido ended up losing by fewer than 30 votes.

Another Republican group, the Chicago Republican Party, claimed it did a lot of work for both the Garrido and Gavin campaigns.

"A lot of time and effort went into this," said Peter Bella, the Chicago GOP's executive director.

Calling it "disingenuous" for Doherty to complain about lack of party involvement, Bella claimed the alderman has "never really done anything for the Republican Party, except - you know - get elected."

Doherty has been the city council's only Republican since he was first elected, in 1991. He lost a bid for the Illinois Senate last fall.