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DECATUR - Illinois Republican Party leaders Friday recommended consultant and former state's attorney Pat Brady of St. Charles be named the new national committeeman at the Republican National Convention.

Brady, cousin to state Rep. Dan Brady, R-Bloomington, must still be elected by the Illinois Republican Convention in Decatur today to officially take the spot.

The national committeeman represents the Illinois Republican Party to the national party. If elected, Brady would succeed committeeman Bob Kjellander, who has announced he will step down at the end of his term after the 2008 elections.

Testimony in the federal corruption trial of Antoin "Tony" Rezko alleged Kjellander may have been asked to use his influence to fire U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald during his investigation of Gov. Rod Blagojevich's administration.

Brady said despite taking Kjellander's spot after this coming election, his role will be an active one.

"What I'm going to do in the meantime is talk to as many county chairmen and party activists as possible and get their input on where they best see to take the direction of the party," Brady said.

Brady said he believes the leadership selected him because they want change.

"The reason I think I won is because they want ethics, they want reform," Brady said. "They want this office to maintain the highest degree of integrity."

Former state Sen. Steve Rauschenberger ran against Brady for the position.

"I'm very surprised by the outcome and a little disappointed," Rauschenberger said. "Pat Brady was supported by the same people who thought Bob Kjellander was doing a nice job."

Several prominent members of the Illinois GOP kicked off the state convention amid traffic and high winds in downtown Decatur on Friday.

All speakers went after Democratic leadership in Illinois, including Illinois GOP Chairman Andy McKenna, who invoked Rezko and accused the governor of sitting on ethics reform.

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"We believe there are basic reforms that are needed in Illinois," McKenna said. "Republicans are going to be strong about ethics reform in Illinois."

Senate Minority Leader Frank Watson and Republican U.S. Senate candidate Steve Sauerberg also spoke at the event.

The Illinois Republican Convention is scheduled to continue through today in Decatur.

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