SPRINGFIELD (WGEM) – Rep. Tony McCombie is set to become the first woman to lead a caucus in the Illinois House of Representatives. House Republicans voted for their future leader during a private caucus meeting Tuesday night.
McCombie has served in the house since 2017 and led the House Republican campaign organization during the 2020 election cycle.
The Savanna Republican worked with Democrats in the past on plans to improve the state’s finances and address safety concerns within the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services.
McCombie still hopes to see a proposal pass to charge people over 21 with an aggravated battery if they attack DCFS employees. The legislation honors the legacy of DCFS caseworkers Deidre Silas and Pam Knight who were murdered while conducting home visits over recent years.
“As Leader, I might actually get that bill passed now. We’ve been fighting for Pam Knight for a long time,” McCombie said Wednesday. “We’ve done it in the House and then it dies in the Senate. With the tragic loss that we had here in Springfield, we thought we were going to get that through with the Senate and the House again and we did not.”
McCombie noted that she will lead the House GOP with honesty and transparency. She hopes to see more bipartisanship in return.
“Common sense legislation should be easy,” McCombie said. “My conversations and relationships, I hope, will bring those issues around.”
McCombie said she will also focus on bringing balance to the Republican Party. She explained the House Republican Caucus needs to collaborate on messages and work together to pass thoughtful legislation.
McCombie will replace House Republican Leader Jim Durkin during the 103rd General Assembly Inauguration on Jan. 11. There will be significant changes within the House GOP leadership team before then. While Durkin is stepping down as minority leader, two leadership members are retiring (Reps. Tim Butler and Mark Batinick), three members lost their races for statewide office (Reps. Avery Bourne, Dan Brady, and Tom Demmer), and two others lost their re-election races (Reps. Keith Wheeler and David Welter). Rep. Deanne Mazzochi is also likely to lose her election.
“We’re starting a message right now. You’ve just elected the first female Republican House Leader,” McCombie said. “I think that should show folks across the state that we are inclusive, we are diverse, and we are welcoming all people to come in.”
McCombie said she already chose Rep. Norine Hammond (R-Macomb) to be her Deputy Republican Leader. The Leader-Elect noted that the Illinois Republican Party needs to start a grassroots campaign to gain more financial support from voters across the state.
“That is always the issue is raising money,” McCombie said. “The thing that we cannot do as a Republican party is rely on one, two, or three big megadonors. We need to be open and getting the $5 and $25 and bringing folks to the table that have not necessarily wanted to be at the table with us.”
McCombie said she doesn’t see an even smaller caucus as an uphill battle in the House. She stressed that there has to be balance in Illinois politics.
“When Illinoisans see that this last election cycle has put us so upside down, they’re gonna come to the polls and they’re gonna bring balance back to Illinois,” McCombie said.