State Sen. Suzi Schmidt pressured to resign or forgo re-election

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Freshman State Senator Suzi Schmidt talks about her plans for the state at Lake County Chamber of Commerce’s “Forecast Lake County” at Marriott Lincolnshire. | Rob Dicker~Sun-Times Media

SPRINGFIELD – GOP pressure at the Statehouse mounted Thursday on state Sen. Suzi Schmidt to either forgo re-election next year or to resign after the release of politically toxic 911 recordings stemming from an ongoing domestic dispute with her husband.The Lake County sheriff’s office this week released four recorded 911 calls dating back to December that involved fights the senator said stemmed from her husband allegedly being with another woman.During a call last Christmas, the lawmaker implored a dispatcher not to respond to her husband, Robert, if he called, reminded a dispatcher she once had been Lake County board chairman and said her husband feared her because “he knows I have connections.”On a call Monday by her husband, Schmidt can be heard in the background admitting she had bitten him during a fight. She initially denied it, but can then be heard saying: “You bet I did.”Schmidt’s conduct on the calls, particularly her allusion to her clout, has caused support within her caucus to erode and prompted a discussion about her political future with Senate Minority Leader Christine Radogno (R-Lemont), who issued a statement Thursday that paired Schmidt’s name with the phrase, “abuse of the public trust.”“Sen. Suzi Schmidt is a colleague coping with a personal crisis. However, these revelations are extremely troubling,” Radogno said. “As public officials, we are held to a higher standard. We cannot and will not tolerate abuse of the public trust.“I am currently engaged in conversations with Sen. Schmidt as she makes important decisions regarding her personal and professional life,” Radogno said.Multiple sources expect Schmidt to reach a decision by Monday about whether she intends to step down, not run for re-election next year or try to weather the firestorm, though some allies say that last option is in no one’s interest.“I think the assessment is there’s a multitude of things in these tapes you really can’t salvage,” one high-ranking party insider told the Sun-Times. “The conversation is going to be about not seeking re-election and possibly stepping down.”Schmidt did not respond to a message left at her Lake Villa office Thursday.Her resignation arguably would give the GOP its best chances in next year’s legislative elections of holding on to the Senate seat she took from Democrats in 2010 by unseating former Sen. Michael Bond (D-Grayslake).Potential replacements kicking around Thursday included state Rep. JoAnn Osmond (R-Antioch); Rep. Sandy Cole (R-Grayslake); Warren Township Supervisor Suzanne Simpson, who ran unsuccessfully for the seat in 2006; and Zion Township Supervisor Cheri Dietzig.Osmond, who told the Sun-Times she is not interested in the seat should it open, praised Schmidt and said she spoke with her Thursday. Osmond said the senator indicated she intended to spend the weekend thinking about her choices and reach a decision by Monday.“It’s just hurting so bad to lose her if that’s her choice,” Osmond said. “She’s upset. She never meant it the way it’s coming out….I’m praying something happens that she’ll stay.”The chairman of the Lake County Republican Party, Bob Cook, said he is not among those calling for Schmidt to relinquish her Senate seat“She didn’t threaten the operator. She didn’t try to make any kind of deal or press the issue. We’re talking about a two-minute phone call over 15 years in politics, helping people, doing the right thing and being there,” Cook said. “If Suzi wants to be there and continue on, she should.”

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