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House leader Cross stepping down from leadership post

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(AP)
Illinois House Minority Leader Tom Cross, R-Oswego

CHICAGO (AP) – After a decade of leading Illinois House Republicans, state Rep. Tom Cross announced Wednesday that he’s stepping down from the leadership post and is considering a bid for state treasurer.

Talk of Cross leaving the position – including jockeying to replace him – has been circulating for months. The Oswego Republican had been interested in running for attorney general, but after Attorney General Lisa Madigan decided not to seek a 2014 gubernatorial bid and seek re-election, he changed course.

Cross, 55, informed House Republicans of his future plans in a closed-to-reporters call on Wednesday. He asked Republicans to come up with a succession plan for him to be able to step down in early October and said his official campaign announcement would follow 2 weeks later.

He’ll continue to serve out his latest term as a state representative, which ends January 2015.

He is stepping aside at a difficult time for the Illinois GOP and as he’s faced criticism for his leadership. The House lost seven Republican seats in November and both chambers now have veto-proof Democratic majorities.

The party has acknowledged it must do more to recruit new candidates and reach out to minorities and women, but has faltered in how to push forward.

The Illinois GOP’s chairman stepped down earlier this year in the wake of comments he made about supporting gay marriage and the process to replace him turned ugly at times: Protests erupted at a committee meeting and police were dispatched.

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