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SPRINGFIELD — The Illinois Republican Party announced late Tuesday night an agreement that would head off what many expected to be an intense fight Saturday for the group's chairmanship.

In an email released at 11:15 p.m., Illinois GOP chair Tim Schneider said he will support Mark Shaw, who had intended to challenge him for the chairmanship, to serve as co-chairman of the state party.

In addition, Shaw, Lake County's GOP chair, also will run for president of the Illinois Republican County Chairmen's Association "with the full support of Governor Bruce Rauner and Chairman Schneider."

Shaw in turn said in the release he would offer Schneider his "full support" to remain the party chair.

Both positions will be elected at a meeting Saturday in Springfield.

The release quoted both Schneider and Shaw saying they needed to work together to ensure that Rauner -- who narrowly defeated challenger state Rep. Jeanne Ives in the primary -- would defeat Democrat J.B. Pritzker in November.

"This year's election might be the most consequential one in our state's history, so we must be more organized than ever before," Schneider said in the statement. "With Mark joining me at the helm, the state party and Republican organizations across Illinois will coordinate new efforts to reelect Gov. Bruce Rauner and our Republican ticket statewide."

Shaw in his statement noted that "many conservatives sent Governor Rauner a message in the primary."

"On the night of the primary, Governor Rauner said he heard them, and I heard them -- loud and clear. But Republicans must focus on the issues that unite us and the election ahead of us. Conservatives in Illinois must come together to reelect Governor Rauner, or we won't have a voice in state government for the next decade," Shaw said in the statement. "That is why I've decided to join together with Chairman Tim Schneider in a unity effort to lead Republicans in Illinois."

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