Illinois Grassroots Republicans look for alternative leadership
Illinois Republicans seek to rebuild and not unify as the state GOP looks for answers
Jeff Regnier, President
Ronna McDaniel’s path to another two-year term leading the Republican National Committee faces a major obstacle: Some of the loudest voices in the conservative movement are calling for her to go. As she seeks a rare fourth term as RNC chair, McDaniel is facing fierce criticism from a horde of right-wing media figures who reach millions of GOP faithful. Now, McDaniel has to hold down her support on the committee for five weeks as a grassroots army rages against her.
Since the midterms, RNC members say their inboxes have been clogged with hundreds of emails each week and the uproar has now turned to the RNC’s spending on events, private travel, luxury accommodations and other expenses in an election cycle that didn’t deliver strong GOP wins. McDaniel’s top opponent is Harmeet Dhillon, an RNC committeewoman from California and election law attorney who has represented Donald Trump.
The contentious chair’s race playing out in the public eye follows Republican disappointments the last three election cycles. And the current RNC contest comes as the party braces for a potential 2024 showdown between Trump and other Republican candidates, calling for a new face of the GOP and new strategies for voter outreach and messaging.
In Illinois on the December 10th the Illinois Republican State Central Committee met at the Bolingbrook Golf Club. They elected and appointed Republicans to the organization. Over 200 grassroots Republicans and candidates for office were present to the event, which was not advertised by the GOP or any of its committee members. The rank and file Republicans expressed their displeasure with the leadership, including the Chairman Don Tracy. For 6 hours, these frustrated Republicans demanded that Tracy resign. They gave numerous examples of the division that exists in the party today. They felt abandoned with no support offered to any grassroots candidates, only to those that followed the party line.
Tom Devore the candidate for Attorney General, challenged the leadership for not helping him or Darren Bailey, who ran for Governor. They refused to offer any support financially or with any endorsements. Numerous Illinois House and Senate candidates never received the funding that was expected to challenge the Democrats. Congressional and Senate races were lost. Many local races were also lost, including county boards and executive departments, Sheriff's and States Attorney's works.
The division was created in January when the Republican Party recruited Richard Irvin, a Democrat, to run as a Republican for Governor. The rationale was that he can deliver a win for his ability to get Democrat votes. Irvin voted Democrat in the last three elections. Just prior to his announcement, he endorsed and supported many Democrat candidates including Governor Pritzker. He is a supporter of Black Lives Matter and is a progressive liberal. Yet Billionaire Ken Griffin spent 50 million dollars in the Republican primary to get him elected.
On June 28 the grassroots Republicans spoke. Darren Bailey who was endorsed by President Trump, received 47% of the vote in the primary thus becoming the nominee. This came to a shock of the Republican leadership and Ken Griffin. Soon, Griffin uprooted his company, Citadel, and moved to Florida like Bruce Rauner did after he lost the Governorship taking his millions of dollars of donations to the party with him.
The Republican Party shunned Darren Bailey, a sitting Republican Senator in the General Assembly because they said he was an “extremist” They cried that as Republicans we had to embrace liberal ideologies in order to win. To support abortion. To limit gun ownership and other rights. Every leader in the Republican Party campaigned for Irvin, knowing he was not a true Republican. Irvin received over 400 endorsements from the GOP leadership across the state, including elected officials. Don Tracy and the State Central Committee fought for Irvin. Both GOP leaders in the General Assembly, Dan McConchie and Jim Durkin pushed for every Republican legislator to support Irvin or else. State Representative Avery Bourne was Irvins running mate.
But Irvin lost anyway. The grassroots Republicans refused what the Republican leadership was selling to them. After the primary, the GOP leadership refused to help Bailey or Devore. They chose to ignore any candidates that supported them, righting them off as too far right. So, the 400 endorsements and donations they gave to Irvin walked away. They chose to divide the party by not offering support in the general election. They raised 2.2 million dollars, which is pennies compared to the over 127 million that the Democrats raised. Even the Indiana GOP out raised Illinois and they are half the population of Illinois. But still, they refused to spend a dime on candidates. The SRO and HRM in the General Assembly also refused to offer help to grassroots candidates, except for a few that supported Irvin in the primary.
During the meeting on the 10th, the leadership decided to stay with Don Tracy. They made a plea for unification after they were the ones that created the division. There was no changing of their minds. They were seated like rulers treating the grassroots that were present like peasants. So, what's next?
A Tom Devore made a video talking about the event. In the video, he explained that he was unaware there was even a State Central Committee. He thought that there was just the County GOP committees. Many Republicans are unaware of the leadership structure in Illinois. The problem is there are too many layers of leadership. To many chiefs and not enough indians. Currently, the Illinois GOP is in shambles. They have a 50% deficit in Precinct committeeman. No one is running for these offices. Vacancies are not being appointed for. The Illinois GOP has no office, staff or even a phone number so Republicans can seek guidance and help. If you wanted to run for office, good luck. There is no way to contact the Chairman or any State Central Committee member. If you happen to contact any of them they will refer you to your County GOP Chair. Good luck trying to meet them as well.
The biggest complaints that Republican candidates had was navigating the system to find help for their races. Many candidates that ran didn't know where to start. The most minor of things to start such as qualifications, social media, websites, funding, PR, filing to become a committee or tax information, was not available by the party. There are no candidate guides for Republican candidates. No networking for endorsements or donations. Almost all the candidates had no idea how to obtain data for their district, let alone knowing how to send a mass mailer, text, or mailing blast. They had no access to graphic design work or printing, including lawn signs. They had no access to obtain video work or even how to advertise. They were unaware of election laws and regulations. These are things that should be made available by the Republican Party on all leadership levels to candidates. There is none!
That is why we need to rebuild the party. The state of our party is dysfunctional and broken. If the Illinois GOP was a funeral home no one would dies. From a business standpoint it would have to file bankruptcy. The people need true leadership and direction. For too long we have lost valued candidates, discouraged for the lack of help. There is no infrastructure. There is no pathway to win races. This needs to change starting now.
To rebuild, restore and regain our party, we have to understand how it works. Look at the present leadership like the mafia and their structure. Because the Illinois GOP is the mob. Currently, Don Tracy is the boss. Richard Porter, the RNC National Committeeman, is the consigliere. The GOP State Central Committeeman are the Captains and the County GOP Chairs are the soldiers. Just like the syndicate today, it's in disarray.
It's important for Republicans to understand who the real power belongs to. The elected Precinct Committeeman. The everyday Republican. This position is elected by the voters and not just some private vote. They are the ones responsible as elected officials to get out the vote in their precincts. They assist the party in local functions and also campaign for candidates, including phone banking and canvassing. This is grassroots and is more important than the leadership. The Democrats embraced these ideas, and that's the reason they continue to be successful in winning races using this field army of picked volunteers. We need to recruit and appointing PCs to challenge Democrats effectively. This needs to start now!
The elected precinct committeeman works with the next levels of the GOP leadership. This would be the GOP township organizations and the County Republican Central Committee. You can also have certain GOP clubs, such as the Young Republicans or the Chicago Republican Party. They meet bi-weekly or monthly to discuss GOP business. It is the responsibility of the township and County Chairman to recruit new candidates and fundraise. Also, to actively offer any assistance and campaign for candidates. They plan Lincoln dinners and other fundraising and campaign events. Conduct festivals and organize parades. The County Chairman also appoints PCs if there are vacancies. The County Chairman also has the authority to appoint Republicans to certain seats in the case of a vacancy due to resignation or removal. For example if an Illinois House or Senate seat was vacated, the chair would make the appointment according to votes cast.
Beginning at this level, the GOP should provide guides through print or Cyber on PC and candidate development. Candidate recruitment and workshops. Republican expos.Classes on how to campaign. This would include access to vetting and background checks on potential candidates to avoid embarrassment. It's better to find out now than to give the Democrats ammunition later. In one case, a GOP Congressional candidate won the primary just to lose the general when it was discovered he was a registered sex offender that served 12 years in prison for raping a young girl.
We need basic instruction. How to start their campaign, including instruction in basic government and public policy with study materials. Election rules, laws and regulations. Access to website designers, social media development, graphic designers and printers. Consultants and Campaign Managers for hire. Tips on fundraising and access to a clearinghouse of GOP endorsements. To guide them on establishing their political committed, reporting and banking and tax information.
Most important is access to voter data by demographics in their districts. This should be provided for free to the candidates. Many candidates spent thousands of dollars of their money on the data. Access to polling and psychographics. Assisting the candidates in promoting their campaign. This includes campaign videos, mailers, text, and email blasting. They require access to volunteers to canvass and phone banks. This would be a field Army. Volunteers also help by spreading the message through social media and word of mouth.
Fundraising is also the key. Many races start out self funded. These candidates have no idea who the millionaire or other wealthy donors are. We need to provide them with donor lists. Lists of companies friendly to conservatives. Access to lobbyists and unions. They need to be instructed on cold calling and donor solicitations. Beginning now, we shouldn't depend on using these direct resources to fundraise just in case the party again cannot deliver.
Most County GOP's do not have offices, employees, or office phone numbers. Just an e-mail address that at times they never respond back to messages. It's not the fault of all of these officials for what they do is volunteer. There are others that shouldn't have the job because they are not leading instead they want the title. However, we need to change this. We need more interactive websites for the GOP. There should be portals for information. There needs to be hotlines available 24 hours a day. There are voice services where multiple people can take a call from a single business number. It's important to answer every call and email. To put out weekly newsletters to keep the people informed. Remember not one leader in the party advertised the Dec. 10 event.
It's time to build up Podcasts and utilize existing Conservative radio shows to get the word out. We need to get our candidate's voice out there. We need to develop more media print resources. For far too long, the newspapers have neglected Republicans with just simple announcements.
The next level of leadership after the County GOP is the most important. The State Central Committee. The board consists of a State Central Committeeman that represents the 17 Congressional districts in Illinois. The board may also appoint a deputy State Central Committeeman to assist them. They also have a flow chart consisting of areas of responsibility, such as finance.
The number one job of the State Central Committee is to support the GOP organizations in the state and to coordinate assistance to candidates to win races. This includes fundraising. The reason the board chose Don Tracy was for his fundraising ability. He raised 2.2 million dollars. It was nothing compared to what the Democrats have raised. True, they own most of the unions and businesses, but we can do better. This involves a targeted campaign to raise money for candidates bydirectly. To support grassroots. After the December 8 fiasco, it will be nearly impossible to have the rank and file donate to the party. That's why they should conduct a campaign to support candidates by encouraging Republicans to donate directly to candidates. Not their choices, but to all candidates.
The State party should invest in software to replace the aging canvassing data that exists right now like "advantage" This system was inaccurate and off. It's old and unreliable. There needs to exist multiple offices throughout the state to represent the state party locally. Offices with workers or volunteers that can assist GOP organizations and GOP candidates. They also need to provide the help to any candidate that will need to start his or her campaign if the County or township organizations fail to help them. They should offer to financially offset the start of the candidate's campaign. This is how simple this is.
We need to start this now. The presidential race is in two years. This includes Congressional, State House and Senate seats. Municipal and school boards races are literally weeks away.
Illinois has suffered the lowest GOP turnout in decades. This was supposed to be the Redwave but it became the Red Ripple. Only 8% of registered Republican voters voted in the primary. Many Republicans became complacent thinking that the races would be won regardless. Yet, we had next to zero poll watchers or election judges and monitors. In the general only 20% of Republicans voted. We took heavy losses due to heavy Democrat turnout. Exit polling verified this. For every interviewed voter that casted their ballot it was on average 4 Democrats for every one voter. The party should have stepped up the get out the vote. To organize voter turnout campaigns. It failed to happen.
Election fraud does exist. The Democrats harvest ballots and buy votes. They spent over a 100 million dollars to strike at Republican candidates. You saw this with the ad campaigns and disinformation. Many Republicans declared victory on election nights just to have their races lost because of mail-in votes in their one races. Machines were producing Democratic votes. The GOP had zero attorneys to face down the clerks for voting irregularities. In cases of voting recounts the Illinois GOP offered no assistance whatsoever including legal. There is no system that exists in the GOP to combat election fraud. This too needs to change.
If the state party refuses to implement this it's fine because preparations are being made to get this done without their help. This grassroots startup includes Patriot Action PAC to lead our conservatives to victory in 2024. It's not about a hold on power, it's about being fed up with being abandoned time and time again with no plans to reinvent the party to take back our state and country. It starts with a heart, compassion for others and a winning spirit. To represent those that have been failed in 2022. It's time to rebuild. With your help we can make a difference for real change!