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Kenyon, Oberweis win in Kane County GOP races
By James Fuller | Daily Herald Staff
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Published: 3/4/2010 12:01 AM

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Mike Kenyon will continue to lead the Kane County Republican Party after beating back a challenge from fellow County Board Member Drew Frasz for the chairmanship.

Meanwhile, a familiar name in the 14th Congressional District and around the state became the district's new State Central Committeeman.

The party victory is Kenyon's second in just the past few weeks. Kenyon triumphed over Kane County Treasurer David Rickert in a battle for the chairmanship of the Elgin Township Republicans. The challenges by Frasz and Rickert were seen by some Republicans as a signal that a growing faction within the party is unhappy with the so-called old guard.

That view doesn't represent the majority of the party, according to the results in Kenyon's favor. Kenyon beat Frasz by more than 5,000 votes.

Frasz said entering the race earlier and a secret ballot may have resulted in a different outcome for him, but he's hoping some of the internal party strife ends now that the election has passed.

"We need to have party unity," Frasz said. "As you can tell watching the county board, there's definitely sides there even within the Republican Party. We'd all like to concentrate on our jobs and not on that."

Kenyon said name recognition, positive campaigning and longtime friendships carried him to victory Wednesday night. He agreed with Frasz that the time has come to mend any fractures within party and on the county board.

"Some people have been grandstanding, but now we can get back to work," Kenyon said. "In fact, everyone is already hugging each other."

Local Republicans also elected a new Republican representative to the State Central Committee for the 14th Congressional District in the form of dairy magnate Jim Oberweis. Oberweis has run for several government offices over the years. Most recently, he lost to Democrat Bill Foster for the 14th Congressional District seat. Oberweis defeated Kane County Clerk Jack Cunningham by about 3,000 votes to win the spot of the State Central Committee. As chairman, Kenyon was able to cast a block of about 13,000 votes representing the precincts not currently filled by a local committeeman. He said he split that block between Oberweis and Cunningham in pretty much the same margins as the final vote came out.

Oberweis said he was happy all of the candidates ran a positive campaign despite some negativity during the actual voting. Oberweis pledged a three-part approach to representing the party in the district.

"The message that I tried to communicate was that we need to open the party up to more people and more participation," Oberweis said. "I'm also a strong supporter of term limits for committeeman and ending the ability of county chairman to vote unfilled precincts. Thirdly, our elected officials probably shouldn't be the committeeman."

Cunningham said he may have lost, but Republicans haven't heard the last from him.

"The party really needs to get together," Cunningham said. "And I'm going to continue to work for the Republican Party and those candidates that are honest. We've lost a lot of respect from a lot of people." Unless you have respect, things are going to work out for the party. I shall be watching, and I'll be vocal if I don't like what's going on."