Illinois Republicans Choose New Leader

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Republicans chose a new leader to replace retiring Senate President James "Pate'' Philip.

The 26-member GOP caucus picked Frank Watson on Thursday night to lead the caucus for at least the next two years.

"I want to see us all working together, and whether it's upstate or downstate, working together on the issues that are important to not only the people of Illinois, but to this caucus,'' said Watson, who has served in the Legislature since 1979.

Philip's decision to retire was announced Wednesday, a month after the GOP lost its Senate majority, its 26-year hold on the governor's mansion and fell further behind in the House, despite the nation's Republican leanings in the November elections.

Longtime House Republican leader Lee Daniels also is stepping aside and outgoing Gov. George Ryan is engulfed in scandal.

Philip had been the top Republican in the Senate since 1981. Republicans have held the majority in the Senate for the past decade, but they will be the minority party in the upcoming session.

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Frank C. Watson, R – Greenville
Assistant Majority Leader

Biography: Pharmacist; born July 26, 1945, in St. Louis, MO; B.S., pharmacy, Purdue University; former trustee and supervisor, Bond County Central Township; married (wife, Susan Rasler), has two children.

Legislative Assignments: Committees on Agriculture & Conservation; Education; Executive; Rules (Vice-Chairperson); Illinois Advisory Council on Alcoholism & Substance Abuse; Legislative Printing Unit; Council on Energy Resources.

Contact Information:

Springfield: 321 Capitol Bldg., 62706; (217) 782-5755; Fax (217) 782-7818
District: 1355A State Route 127, Greenville 62246; (618) 664-9108; Fax (618) 664-9112
Years Served: 1979-83 (House); 1983-present (Senate)

Source: (Illinois State Legislators Web site) contributed to this report.