The Race For Chicago Mayor And Our Conservative Representation
A column by Patriot Action PAC President Jeff Regnier
Jeff Regnier/ File photo (2022)
Jeff Regnier, President of Patriot Action PAC
The race for Chicago Mayor is on. A nonpartisan race, technically it's not about Democrat versus Republican. Liberal versus Conservative. Let's be real, it really is. Of the declared nine candidates on the ballot, everyone is a die hard liberal Democrat.
The Chicago Republican Party, as usual, has yet to produce a conservative candidate to run for Mayor. Once upon a time ago, they did. 40 years ago, to be exact.
In 1983, Bernie Epton, a Republican, ran for Mayor of Chicago, and he almost won.
A resident of the Hyde Park neighborhood of Chicago, Epton ran against the liberal African American Democrat Harold Washington in the mayoral election in the spring of 1983. In a racially charged election, Epton came within 40,000 votes (of 1.2 million cast) of defeating the Democratic nominee. His total was the high-water mark for Chicago Republicans in elections for mayor in the heavily Democratic city. Epton received 81 percent of the votes of Chicago whites, and 3 percent from blacks. One of Epton's campaign slogans was “Epton for mayor… Before it's too late,” which critics declared had racial overtones.
Epton served in World War II in the U.S. Army Air Force, for which he flew twenty-five missions over Germany and twice earned the Distinguished Flying Cross. During the postwar years, Epton became a successful attorney with a specialty in insurance law. A graduate of the University of Chicago and DePaul University College of Law, he was an unsuccessful liberal Republican candidate for U.S. Representative from Illinois' 2nd congressional district in 1960. With John F. Kennedy narrowly winning Illinois that year, Epton lost to the Democratic incumbent, Barratt O'Hara. Known for being witty and occasionally sharp-tongued, Epton was elected to the Illinois House of Representatives in 1969 and served until 1983. He chaired the chamber's Insurance Committee. Then he decided to run for Mayor at 62 years old.
By his own account, Epton became uncomfortable with the racially oriented nature of his campaign because he had been an active participant in the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s. He would have become the city's first Jewish mayor (an accomplishment that eventually was claimed by Rahm Emanuel when he was elected in 2011) and its first Republican mayor since William Hale Thompson left office in 1931. Epton died later in 1987.
100 years ago, believe it or not, Chicago did have a Republican Mayor, and he was a big one.
William Hale Thompson was mayor of Chicago from 1915 to 1923, and again from 1927 to 1931. He was the last Republican to hold the office. And he’s earned notoriety as one of the most lowdown, graceless big-city bosses in all of American history.
When he was first elected, he was already charging city workers $3 each month, which he pocketed to fuel his political ambitions. Yes. He was thinking of being assumed to higher power, more than the fifth floor could ever offer. He wanted the White House.
Thompson ended up not running for the mayor’s job in 1923. But on April 6, 1926, Thompson prepared himself for a comeback by debating two rats in public. He referred to the long-tailed vermin as “Doc” after mayoral hopeful Dr. John Dill Robertson, and “Fred” as in Fred Lundin, a major political power broker of the time.
Thompson ended up back on the fifth floor with the help of Al Capone’s organization. The April 10, 1928, election day is known by historians as the “Pineapple Primary” — named for the hand-grenades that were thrown at polling places to scare voters away.
Thompson made enemies out of Col. Robert McCormick, publisher of the Chicago Tribune, and U.S. Sen. Joseph Medill McCormick. Both newsmen saw the mayor for the crook that he was.
Several key moments in Chicago history happened while Big Bill was in charge. The 1919 race riots from July 27 to August 3 resulted in 38 deaths. Capone tried to topple Bugs Moran’s North Side Gang at the February 14, 1929, shootout at 2122 N. Clark St., in what we now know as the St. Valentine’s Day Massacre. Seven people were murdered that day.
Anton Cermak, a Bohemian immigrant, became a hero for many Chicagoans who felt disenfranchised by politicians like Thompson. When he ran for mayor, Thompson armed himself with racist remarks at every chance he got.
“I won’t take a back seat to that Bohunk, Chairmock, Chermack or whatever his name is,” he said to a crowd.
Cermak was successful in wrestling control away from Thompson and won the 1931 election.
Thompson’s death on March 19, 1944, at 74 years old uncovered one more surprise for Chicago. Officials discovered safety deposit boxes with nearly $1.5 million stashed away.
I'm a native of Chicago. My father is a retired Chicago Police Officer. My brother is an active Chicago firefighter. We grew up in Mt. Greenwood, where many CPD Officers raised their families. I grew up with conservative values, loving my city, state, and country.
I married young, eventually having 5 kids and started a construction company. My company had numerous contracts building playgrounds for the City of Chicago. I have personally seen the inner workings of how city politics work. It's not a pleasant one, but it's the nature of the beast. Like Big “Bill” Thompson in his days, many politicians tend to operate the same way 100 years later.
I now live in Will County and I own a gun store there. Like many people who wanted to make change, I decided to run for Congress in the 1st Congressional District in 2022 after Bobby Rush announced his retirement. The district spans from my home in Will County to Chinatown in the city. Because I came in late in the game, I lost my race in the GOP primary, but I did have a big tally of votes, winning Will County.
As a conservative and proud Republican, I didn't take my ball and go home. Instead, I chose to help other candidates in the general election and beyond. I founded Patriot Action PAC to become proactive in Republican races.
My plan is simple. To recruit candidates for political office that will give us the representation that we need. This includes offering help to any other candidates and raising money for them. To provide candidate clinics and training free of charge. To instruct them on public policy and help them navigate their political campaigns. To assist them from A to Z. Right now, the Illinois GOP, even at the county level, has yet to offer this to candidates.
As a former candidate myself, I self funded and hired a consultant to show me the ropes. I did have some help from the NRA and the ISRA as they helped recruit me to run because I am currently the owner of a gun store in New Lenox. Kee Firearms and Training. Some in the GOP did offer some help, but not the help that was needed for a race my size in a large congressional district.
Now comes this race for Mayor of Chicago. Every day, I get calls from Republicans active in the party. Many are candidates seeking help. One topic that comes up is whom to support for Mayor of Chicago. My reply is no one.
When you support a candidate, it's because they share your values. In the case of a Republican, it would be conservative values. That candidate will offer to you the representation that you deserve. In the case of these nine candidates running for Mayor of Chicago, how can they represent your interests? Every one of them are hard left liberal Democrats. In good conscience, I cannot support or endorse any of them because I cannot promote their liberal ideology. If elected, even the most moderate of them will still be bad for the city.
For a Republican, it is better to stay out of this race. I'd rather sit on my hands to actively support a pro-abortion candidate, which they all are. For a Republican candidate, it would be political suicide if it was discovered that they supported or even voted for any of these candidates.
The reason the Illinois Republican Party is broken is that starting from the top, Republicans are willing to support Democrats crying for “unity” To become unified as one. That ideology is broken. You're either Conservative or liberal. Republican or Democrat. Not moderate or even the middle. It's time that we take a stand and pick a side if we will ever have a chance to rebuild this party. We are the party of Lincoln with the strength of Reagan, and we should start uniting ourselves instead of with the Democrats to start winning races to save our state and country.
Daily, I'm receiving information of Republicans supporting Democrats in the race for Mayor of Chicago. Their excuse is that there are no Republicans running, so we must do something. Another reason is this is the hand we have been dealt. Another reason is picking the lesser of two evils, just as long as we get Lori Lightfoot out.
I agree 100%. Lori Lightfoot has to go. Yet, a Republican shouldn't have to sell his or her soul to make that point. Republicans that don't even live in the city are actively campaigning for some of these Democratic candidates, but before this were nowhere to be found supporting Republican candidates. Very surprising, huh?
A few weeks ago, Stephan Boulton, the Chairman of the Chicago Republican Party, made a post on Facebook on their official page they were going to OFFICIALLY endorse a DEMOCRAT for Mayor of Chicago. This Chairman was absent in many races for candidates running for office as Republicans in 2022. They received no support, data, consulting, donations or even an endorsement, yet the Chicago GOP is actively campaigning for a Democrat. This is what's wrong with the party.
It's been 100 years since we had a Republican Mayor. Why are they not attempting to recruit and support a Republican to run instead of settling for a Democrat? Any of these Democrats are willing to accept a Republican's support, but I'll promise you that you will be forgotten when they are elected.
Let's start with the most popular of the candidates running for Mayor, Paul Vallas.
Vallas is the former CEO of the Chicago Public Schools. After he left his post, he ran for office three times, including Chicago Mayor. He lost all three races. He failed to even make the runoff in the last election. Lori Lightfoot eventually won.
Vallas, the father of a Chicago Police Officer, decided to run once again on a “Back the Blue” campaign. He made promises to fire the present superintendent and revamp the department and combat crime. Soon, the Chicago Police Union Lodge 7 decided to endorse him. Vallas then decided to court conservative groups for their support. In one case, he was attacked for speaking at a Conservative event with Awake Illinois. He was on a panel discussing children and protection for them.
Now remember, Vallas is not a Republican. He's a card carrying liberal member of the Democratic Party. In his ads, he promotes abortion and other liberal ideals. Yet, he is pandering to conservatives for support.
This week, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis announced a visit to Illinois as a guest of the Chicago Police Union. He made his appearance yesterday, in Elmhurst. Immediately, the other 8 candidates asked Vallas to denounce the Chicago Police Union and to return their endorsement because they were promoting an “extremist and racist” Republican. Many other Democrats, including Governor Pritzker, followed suit.
Instead of standing his ground in solidarity with the police that endorsed his campaign, Vallas condemned the Desantis visit, attacking the popular governor.
Of course, he flipped flopped because he's a Democratic loyalist. The Democratic Party comes first. Not the people, Police, or even conservatives that supported him. So, why should he be trusted? He can't! The second he's elected it would be Lightfoot 2.0 No Republican should support Vallas. If they do, they should resign from the Republican Party.
Let's look at Chuy Garcia. Garcia is running for Mayor a second time. A Democrat socialist, he's better off running for Mayor of Moscow. He is currently under federal investigation for the ComEd scandal involving former speaker Michael Madigan. The other candidates are targeting him for having family connected to gang members. Like Vallas no Republican should support Garcia.
Lastly of the candidates that have an actual chance of making the runoff is Millionaire Willie Wilson. Wilson has run for office more than we change our socks. A ploy that he does in every election is giveaways. From gas to groceries. Wilson is a huge supporter of Black Lives Matter. Because like Vallas he likes to pander to all sides, it was a surprise to him that the Chicago Police Union endorsed Paul Vallas. After all, it was just last year that Wilson stood with the President of Lodge 7 and presented a check to the Police. I guess the Police weren't buying into his games because if you remember, it was slick Willie that endorsed Lightfoot for Mayor. Like Vallas and Chuy no Republican should support Wilson.
Now the last of the contenders that have a chance in the runoff is the one that got Chicago into the mess they have today with record crime numbers and homicides. Lori Lightfoot. A former Cook County State's Attorney, she pulled the wool over everyone's eyes about cleaning up Chicago. Instead, she hired a superintendent with no plans to combat crime, and then she was personally responsible for the greatest riots Chicago ever saw in 2020.
That summer, instead of siding with her Police and the innocent citizens of Chicago, she sided with the BLM. She looked the other way as they burned and destroyed the city. She defended the looters. Furthermore, she wanted cops prosecuted for doing their jobs. What kind of Mayor does this?
Lori Lightfoot that's who.
Now there are five other candidates on the ballot, but in reality they have no chance even pulling single digit votes in the runoff.
So of these four, who shall take reign of the City of Chicago as the next Mayor? Well that's not our fight. Instead starting today we should concentrate on finding a Republican to run for Mayor of Chicago in 2027. If the Chicago GOP won't do their job well we will do it for them.
It's time to rebuild and restore the Republican Party to begin winning races. We cannot offord to let the Democrats continue to intrude on our freedoms with nonsense laws they are passing.
Let us fill any available Precinct Committeeman seats. Let us recruit new candidates for school boards, municipal, statewide and Congressional races. We have no time to support any Democrats because after all do you think they would do the same for a Republican? Absolutely not, never.
Jeff Regnier is the President of Patriot Action PAC a conservative group that promotes Republican ideals and candidates. Jeff is also a former Congressional Candidate in Illinois District 1. He is the owner of Kee Firearms and Training.
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