It’s fair to call ROSEMARIE LONG, who has been Sangamon County Republican Party Chairman TONY LIBRI’s appointed party chairwoman since 2005, a compromise candidate to be the next party leader. Libri now backs her, as do all those big GOP names who wanted to end his reign as chairman.

It’s fair to call ROSEMARIE LONG, who has been Sangamon County Republican Party Chairman TONY LIBRI’s appointed party chairwoman since 2005, a compromise candidate to be the next party leader. Libri now backs her, as do all those big GOP names who wanted to end his reign as chairman.

“I just have worked with so many precinct committeemen, volunteers, (and) elected officials over the past numerous years that I think that I have set up sort of a rapport with them,” Long told me, “and we have a good working relationship.”

Libri last week ended a standoff with a range of Republicans from state Sen. LARRY BOMKE to Sangamon County Board Chairman ANDY VAN METER, by agreeing not to seek another term as chairman.  Long is the agreed-upon successor.

Long, a Springfield native, served 17 years on the Sangamon County Board, leaving in 2010 when she moved out of her district, from Grandview to Sherman, to be closer to the home of her 94-year-old mother, STELLA FELECCIA.  Long points out that she ran day-to-day operations of the party from late 2008 through September 2009, when Libri was on Army National Guard duty in Afghanistan.

Unlike some political folks who are quick with opinions, sometimes biting, Long seems much more of a conciliator.

“I like for everyone to get along, and I’ll work very hard,” Long said — noting she still has to be formally elected to get the job. “But I can make the hard decisions.”

Long, who says she is “70 going on 50,” said her late father, JACK FELECCIA, was a coal miner who “probably leaned Democrat.”

“I just got involved with the Republicans and I like the way they work and the friendship, and I just stuck with them,” she said. Party leader LOWELL FRAIM and the Springfield Township Republican Club helped draw her into grass-roots activism. She’s still president of the North End Republican Club.

The party chairmanship doesn’t pay.

She agreed, with a laugh, that a lot of political involvement in Springfield has been about people who “just want jobs,” but she also said that Rutan anti-patronage ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court — which originated with a Springfield case — “wiped out … everything as far as trying to get jobs by being political.” Still, she said, people from both parties make references.

Long herself was appointed last year by Comptroller JUDY BAAR TOPINKA to be on the Comptroller’s Merit Commission. The group meets four times a year and discusses personnel issues, she said. She is paid $100 per meeting.

From 1996 to 2006, Long ran a Department of Public Health warehouse in Springfield.
“I did talk to a few people about getting a job,” she said when I asked if it was legitimate to call her part of the “system” of how Springfield works.

“I talked to IRV SMITH,” she said. “I don’t know who he talked to.”

Smith was county GOP chairman at the time. He retired in 2005, when Libri took over.
Long’s husband, also named JACK, is a former secretary of state worker and former Springfield Township assessor. One of their sons, BRIAN, 45, drives a truck for the Department of Corrections, making $72,624 a year.

“I think that my husband made some calls at the time,” she said about her son’s hiring. He’s been with the state since 1986.

Long praised Libri for getting the party a new headquarters and for working hard to find candidates.

She and others are also supporting Libri for election to another term as circuit clerk.

She laments the recent split in the party. When I asked, she said longtime party leader BILL CELLINI, who was convicted of federal corruption charges last fall, might have worked out a way to avoid such a public rift in the organization.

“Bill has a very nice way of talking to people, and he listens very well,” Long said. “I’ve never known him to really say, ‘You do this.’ He’ll put out suggestions. … I think he would have had a better handle on it.”

But she also said she hasn’t been in regular communication with Cellini. She considers him out of the process now and said she will not be seeking his advice.

So who will she go to for advice?

“My precinct committeemen, the elected officials, the ones who make up the party,” Long said. “I’m going to be having lots of meetings and lots more communication,” including emails to party activists.

How’s the storied Sangamon County GOP going to do?

“It will stay strong and get stronger,” Long said.

Cellini update
There have been a few developments in Bill Cellini’s life.

Cellini’s sentencing before U.S. District Judge JAMES ZAGEL — for conspiracy to commit extortion and aiding and abetting the solicitation of a bribe — is set for June 15. He faces up to 30 years.

Cellini, 77, also retired Dec. 31 as the Illinois Asphalt Pavement Association’s executive vice president. His leadership of that group spanned 38 years.

MARVIN TRAYLOR, who has been with the organization for 27 years and was its director of research and engineering, moved into the executive vice president role as of Jan. 1.

Cellini also has severed ties to the Sangamon County Republican Foundation, which over time has raised and spent a ton of cash for local candidates.

A letter from Van Meter, chairman of the foundation, was filed with the State Board of Elections in March, saying that Cellini resigned his position as treasurer in February. As of March 1, the new treasurer is DRINDA O’CONNOR of Springfield. She is a retired state worker who also served on the Lincoln Land Community College board.

O’Connor said she was asked by Van Meter if she’d be willing to take the job.

“I’d like to see the Republican organization in Sangamon County become stronger,” she said.
O’Connor retired from the Department of Human Services as deputy chief operating officer. She said her background growing up in a very poor community in Kentucky fueled her Republican philosophy, which includes the desire for less government.

Bernard Schoenburg is political columnist for The State Journal-Register. He can be reached at 788-1540 or follow him via twitter.com/bschoenburg. His email address is
bernard.schoenburg@sj-r.com.