As the Cook County Republicans meet Wednesday in Chicago, they'll be casting about for a strategy to shake the Democrats' grip on county offices.
Last week, the Republicans elected Sig Vaznelis, the Lemont Township Republican committeeman, as their new chairman. (He replaces Lee Roupas, who took a job as a DuPage County assistant state's attorney.) On Monday, Vaznelis announced his deputy will be Aaron Del Mar, Palatine Township committeeman, who dropped out of the race for chairman and endorsed Vaznelis.
Vaznelis, an engineer by trade, says he'll approach county politics in an engineering fashion: "By profession, we are problem-solvers and builders."
An example of the challenge Vaznelis faces is the 2010 Metropolitan Water Reclamation District race. With three seats open, the top GOP vote-getter, the well-qualified Paul Chialdikas, ran far behind all three Democrats. Chialdikas got 380,787 votes, while vote totals for the three Dems ranged from 659,353 up to 679,058. The percentages for other countywide Republican candidates couldn't break the 30 percent mark.
And though President Barack Obama's nationwide numbers don't look rosy, local pols figure he'll still run strong in 2012 in Cook County, making this a tough year for the GOP to make inroads.
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