Durkin New Leader of Illinois House Republicans

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SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) -- Suburban Chicago state Rep. Jim Durkin is the new leader of Republicans in the Illinois House.

The Western Springs lawmaker was elected Thursday afternoon in Springfield. Durkin's challenger had been state Rep. Raymond Poe of Springfield. But Poe dropped out of the race before the election, saying there is a need for party unity.

The current Republican caucus chair, state Rep. Tom Cross, is stepping down to run for state treasurer. Cross held the position for a decade.

Durkin is an attorney. He was first elected to the House in 1994 and served until 2002. He made an unsuccessful bid for U.S. Senate and was re-elected to the state House in 2006.

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