SPRINGFIELD-The top House Republican voiced support Wednesday for his Senate counterpart, Senate Minority Leader Christine Radogno, who is facing a potential challenge to her role as the Senate GOP head from a leading conservative within her caucus.
"I will say it this way, I've worked very well with her, and I think she does a very good job of articulating the views of a diverse caucus of upstaters, downstaters, conservatives, very conservatives, Tea Party. And I think she has been able to kind of be a voice for that caucus. That can be challenging at times," House Minority Leader Tom Cross (R-Oswego) told the Chicago Sun-Times.
"I have enjoyed working with her and would like to work with her again. I don't have a vote over there, and I've been very careful to stay out of her caucus," Cross said.
Radogno (R-Lemont) faces a push for her ouster as legislative leader from some conservatives, including Family PAC.
State Sen. Kyle McCarter (R-Lebanon) has said he's interested in displacing Radogno as the leader based on last week's disappointing election results, where the Senate GOP lost five seats to Democrats. But so far, McCarter appears short of lining up the 10 votes necessary in the incoming 19-member Senate GOP caucus to make that happen.
Radogno said late Wednesday she was "very, very appreciative" of Cross' words of support for her as she pursues another term as legislative leader.
"I think Tom and the other leaders, as well, know what a very difficult job this is, and a lot of it is is trying to bring together people so everyone in the caucus has some voice. It's tough for Tom to do. It's tough for [Senate President] John [Cullerton]. It's tough for [House Speaker Michael] Madigan (D-Chicago)," Radogno told the Sun-Times.
"It's an easy position to take potshots at. There's no question about that. That comes with the territory. But having said that, I'm very grateful to have that endorsement. I think Cullerton said similar nice things about me. It is a tough job. I'm humbled by it, and I certainly think we have some soulsearching to do and I'd like to to be the one to lead that effort," she said.
But McCarter minimized the impact of Cross' words of support for Radogno and warned that backing her could wind up costing Cross support within his own caucus for another term as House GOP leader.
"It is kind of like endorsing someone in a primary when you have a race of your own," McCarter said in a statement to the Sun-Times. "You don't know how many votes it will cost you."
Senate Republicans are likely to choose their new leader when lawmakers return to Springfield for their fall session, which begins Nov. 27 and could extend through Jan. 9.