Local GOP revolt?

Perhaps the “trickle down” theory works after all. It appears the disarray plaguing the state Republican Party machinery has trickled down to the Winnebago County GOP machine.

John Terranova and Sue McDonald resigned last Thursday night from the Republican caucus committee.

Nobody wants to talk about it on the record because the courthouse crowd is a skittish lot, fearful of retaliation. Some observers, like Alberto Altamore, director of the Illinois Coalition Against Unfair Utilities, are willing to make some general comment.

“There’s a lot of shifting going on,” Altamore said. “There’s always a lot of people displeased with the way things are run. They’ve got their conflicts of interest,” he said.

Another observer, an insider, declined to be identified, but said there are many whisperings in the wind about what went on with the committee.

This source said McDonald was pressed by the Republican caucus to step down from the executive committee because she had irritated them as well as a number of other people in the county. The Perryville Road extension seemed to be a point of focus. “They asked her to leave,” he said. “They went through Terranova.”

Interestingly, Terranova himself resigned not only as chairman of the caucus, but as chairman of the Republican Executive Committee as well. He claims it was because of travel requirements of his job and a desire to spend more time with his family, but few really believe that was the sole reason. One veteran politician commented, “there is a

problem with Terranova,” but he could not or would not say what it is. Terranova and McDonald are good friends, and sources indicated he resigned rather than ask his friend to resign.

As chairman of the Forest Preserve Committee, McDonald will continue to serve on the Winnebago County Executive Committee, which is made up of all the county committtee chairs.

Terranova’s resignation is a bit surprising because he has been a close associate of Kris Cohn and was her chief arm twister in aligning votes on the board.

Sources say at the root of this internal revolt is a lack of confidence in Cohn’s leadership and anger that they’ve been lied to. “I’ve heard talk of interim leadership, of a transition team until November,” said one source. “There is a feeling the chairman has become too powerful, taking all the appointments and such, and they want to take that back.”

The source said the Perryville Road extension project is a part of what rankles them, “but there are other things.” He said both past and present members of the board feel they were given misleading information about Perryville and a number of other projects.

As one other source said: “They smell blood. They would like to see Cohn gone.” Altamore pointed to Cohn’s close ties to developers, such as Sunil Puri. “The other part of the problem,” he said, “is that they’re only getting the crumbs, and she’s getting the cheese.”

As vice chairman of the GOP caucus, John Sweeney has assumed the chairmanship and said he hopes to hold elections next week. Sweeney and Cohn reportedly had a falling out earlier this year over the Perryville Road extension.

Sweeney said he did not want to comment on any interpersonal relationship within the caucus. He also said he did not think there was a revolt going on against Cohn within the local GOP.

As for Terranova’s resignation, Sweeney said, “I take John at his word that he had a heavy work load, and that’s a fact.”

McDonald and Cohn were not available for comment by presstime.

Frank Schier also contributed to this article.

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