This fall, the Republican Party’s “showroom” in the 63rd State Representative District will be as empty as the closed Ford dealership in the Vulcan Lakes TIF District on Route 14 in Crystal Lake.
The McHenry County Republican Party has thrown in the towel for the third time in four election cycles. Once on Bill LeFew’s watch, twice on Mike Tryon’s.
“Chainsaw Jack” Franks and his family can have a rip snorting celebration tonight.
The long and the short of the Special Meeting Saturday morning was that Tea Party-inspired Tonya Franklin’s supporters could not muster the 40% quorum.
A humorous moment occurred while Vice Chairman Mark Daniel took the roll call. His cell phone went off. The ring tone was the theme from “The Godfather.”
62 of the 155 elected and appointed Precinct Committeemen were needed.
There were not that many.
Even County Board Chairman Ken Koehler, with whom Franks is having the closest thing to a blood feud as I have seen in local politics, and who told me and Tonya Franklin at his fund raiser that he would be in attendance, was absent.
Only 38 were in attendance, so “unfortunately we don’t have a quorum,” as Tonya Franklin’s attorney Laura Jacksack explained to the crowd.
There was discussion of adjourning the meeting to a time specific.
Melissa Denker, who was sitting behind me next to Mike Shorten, said, “I don’t have time for that.”
“This is not an official meeting of the McHenry County Central Committee,” Tryon explained.
“This is a Special Meeting called by 25% [of the Committeemen].”
Tryon invited Tonya Franklin to the podium. I only got snatches as she shed some tears while giving what I would call a gracious concession speech.
“Well, we put up a good fight…”I’m crying but I’m so appreciative that you’re here.
“This took a lot of hard work.
“When they said, ‘Nobody knew me,’ we proved them wrong…
“We should not let an election go uncontested…
“I’m just a Mom and I really are.
“Patriots inspire me
“Under Michael Madigan Illinois has the 47th worst state for business.
“I was hoping you all had a candidate.
“I want to be a Precinct Committeeman. I’ll walk.
“I don’t know if I’ll be back to run again, but [I'll work this year to elect Republicans].”
“I’m crying but I’m so appreciative.”
Afterward, Tryon asked for questions and discussion.
Tonya Franklin’s daughter asked why Tryon had rejected her mother.
“I’m not a Boss Hog kind of person,” the mild-mannered Chairman said.
“If we go into closed session, I can [answer that question].
“We have aired this in public.
“Our bylaws are online. I wouldn’t have wanted that.”
Tryon mentioned “that kind of energy going on,” but I didn’t catch the context.
He stressed that political parties are “private.”
“We don’t have to air our differences in public.
“If we’re going to have discussions, bylaws, we should have [discussions in private].
The woman who initiated the call for the Special Meeting, write-in winner Sharon Meroni said, “The truth is that you sent out an email discouraging people from coming.
“Now, you’ve stated this is an official meeting.”
“Why wouldn’t you appoint my Mom?” Tonya Franklin’s daughter reiterated.
Mike Shorten moved to close the meeting, which was seconded by Melissa Denker.
I pointed out that Tonya Franklin’s daughter would not be allowed in a closed meeting and argued against shutting out the visitors and Woodstock Advocate reporter Gus Philpott (wearing a name tag that said, “Media, but not the Northwest Herald”) and the NWH’s Brett Rowland.
Eleven of the 38 raised their hands in favor of closing the meeting, so it was kept open.
“When I was approached by Sharon,” Tryon explained, “I met for breakfast with three of our Vice Chairmen and [others of the Executive Committee whose identity I did not catch].
- why she wanted to try,
- [about] her platform,
- what she had done [about] putting together a campaign plan.
“The Executive Board made a decision not to recommend [her].”
Tryon pointed out there were “two schools of thought:”
- that Franks should be kept busy
- that fielding an opponent would allow Franks to raise more money and get involved in local elections
He also pointed out that he didn’t remember that Central Committee having had a quorum in the last six years. “There may have been one.”
Meroni asked about the “official letter” Tryon sent out.
“I asked Geri to draft a letter to explain what’s [happening].
“I feel like a rag doll being pulled apart.
“You’ve been criticizing me. That’s unsettling to me.
“I don’t read blogs,” Tryon said. He noted that he had been reading McHenry County Blog for the last few weeks.
“I my stop reading them for good. For good health, I’ve decided to stop reading them.”
Someone in the audience (I believe it was Betty Miller) said,
“You have nobody.
“You can’t find anyone?”
At that point, Tonya Franklin said,
“I could win.”
Steve Verr, who ran against Ann Hughes, Mike Brown and Tom Salvi in Republican primary elections for State Representative asked Tryon,
“Did you approve of that letter?”
“I did,” the Chairman answered.
“Then I think the Democratic Party has seized control of the Republican Central Committee.”
At that point, Mike Tryon walked out of the meeting room at d’Andrea’s.
After Tryon left, Verr was heard to say,
“I’ve been living with this [for a long time].
“This is the rottenest county in the rottenest state.
Tonya Franklin addressed the dispersing crowd by saying,
“Thank you all for coming.
“Let’s keep it positive.
“I’m not better than nothing now.
“No one’s running against Jack Franks.”
It remains to be seen if Franks will try to expand his base into the Crystal Lake-Lakewood-Lake in the Hills District 2 to campaign door-to-door against Koehler.
I can tell you that Franks was actively seeking money from solid Republicans in my precinct a couple of years ago. There was a mailing followed by a phone call. Maybe he was looking for more Republicans to put on his “Host Committee.”
To the surprise of many, GOP Chairman Mike Tryon was in attendance and chaired the meeting.
Tryon had sent out an email twice and a letter to some Precinct Committeemen (not including yours truly) basically urging people to stay home, declaring,
“Please be advised that this meeting is NOT a Central Committee meeting.”
Nevertheless, instead of driving south to his vacation home in Missouri, Tryon drove back north to Crystal Lake after the legislative session ended Thursday.
When asked later in the meeting if he had approved the email that he said that he had asked Executive Director Geri Davis to draft, he admitted he had read and approved it.
Another anonymous email (“Concerned Citizen”) made the rounds–again, not sent to me–which I reproduce below:
Dear Committeemen and Committeewomen:
As a concerned resident and voter in McHenry County, I respectfully request that you not attend the unofficial, unsanctioned and improper gathering being planned by Cal Skinner in a desperate, last minute attempt to slate a woefully unqualified candidate to run for state Representative.
The process fails to adhere to McHenry County GOP by-laws and is marred with distortion. Nothing is wrong with a candidate running for office, but this charade is an affront to primary voters that deserved the opportunity to make up their own minds. With what little we know about Ms. Franklin already, local residents are right to be worried. Primary elections are meant to vet candidates for a general election and it is obvious why this candidate found it beneficial to skip that step.
If case you haven’t already seen today’s Northwest Herald, please read the article below. Following the article, also see another copy of an letter from Chairman Tryon explaining the situation and detailing why Ms. Franklin’s candidacy was declined.
Thanks for your service and taking the time to read this message.
In addition, the entire Northwest Herald article on Tonya Franklin was reproduced, with the following emphasized in yellow:
“Tryon pointed out that the May 24 date of the letter could mean only nine days’ notice was provided…
“‘The fact is, the party’s resources are very limited and have to be managed very strategically. Even the energy needs to be strategically placed – the energy to get [52nd House candidate] Dave McSweeney elected, to get [Mitt] Romney elected in our county,’Tryon said.’“The election just isn’t about one race – it’s about strategically placing your party’s resources to be as successful as you can.’”
I’m trying to remember assistance the local Republican Party did in the Twenty-one times I was running for the Republican nomination or was the Republican candidate for office. Some committeemen passed out literature in person. I’m sure others made mailings. There were marked sample ballots some years.
I do remember my campaign’s being assessed hundreds of dollars to pay for the printing of the literature.
Basically, though, candidates are on their own.
And most campaigns will have less effort put into them this summer and fall than Tonya Franklin and her volunteers put in over the last two weeks.
= = = = =
Other scuttlebutt picked at the meeting is that a lot of courthouse folks can expect to be giving depositions as a result of Special Assistant State’s Attorney Bill Caldwell’s motion for sanctions against Zane Seipler. This was in Seipler’s over two-year unsuccessful attempt to get Associate Judge Thomas Meyer to appoint a Special Prosecutor to investigate whether or not Sheriff Keith Nygren used county-paid resources to advance his election.