I’ve been to a lot of Republican Party functions since I came back from Washington to run for McHenry County Treasurer in the spring of 1966.
The meeting at the Woodstock VFW Thursday night, however, had more energy than any other I’ve attended.
When Central Committee meetings are held, it’s almost as if people are going through the motions.
That was not the case with the GOP Precinct Committeemen candidates and volunteers who numbered over 110 when I counted, with more arriving later.
While I was out getting some literature, the slate the reformers are proposing to lead the McHenry County Republican Central Committee for the next two years presented themselves.
Introduced by Gasser, three county candidates spoke first.
Crystal Lake City Councilman Jeff Thorsen gave his pitch for the Republican nomination for County Treasurer.
McHenry County Board member Nick Provenzano followed suit.
Bill Prim, around whom most in the crowd were grouped, spoke briefly.
“As a public speaker, I’ll make an excellent Sheriff,” he said ironically.
Prim said that Thorsen, Provenzano and he had the same philosophies.
Then began a parade of four statewide candidates.
Paul Schimpf is running against Lisa Madigan.
I’ll write a separate story about his campaign later, but he ended his talk with a zinger:
“If you want an Attorney General who will
- protect your freedoms
- fight corruption and
- transform the Attorney General’s Office in a watchdog that will protect citizens from intrusive state government,
you need to trust a retired Marine, not a [member] of the Madigan machine.”
Duffy also repeated the story about his first Senator floor speech.
That was during Rod Blagojevich’s impeachment trial.
Senator President John Cullerton apparently was trying to manage the message and Duffy was not supposed to be one of the speakers.
He persisted, however, with the message, “Everyone down here in the Capitol needs to be held responsible.”
This did not please Cullerton who came over and told Duffy, “You basically accused us all of being corrupt.”
Cullerton asked him to apologize to the body.
Duffy said he told him, “If you recognize me, I have more to say.”
Duffy was not recognized, but after the vote Cullerton announced that Duffy was in the wrong parking place “and you’re going to have to move.”
“You are going to change politics not just in McHenry County, but in all of Illinois,” Duffy told the crowd.
“Can you imagine if we had a Springfield full of Dan Duffys?” moderator Gasser asked.
Gasser then said that Committeeman John O’Neill had called that afternoon and asked if gubernatorial candidate Kirk Dillard could speak at the meeting.
“We are an inclusive party,” he continued before introducing Dillard.
“This is awesome–this kind of excitement. I’m glad you let me speak before Joe Walsh.”
Dillard told of being in Crystal Lake this morning before traveling to Rockford and back before praising the crowd:
“The most important elected office in the State of Illinois is you, the Precinct Committeeman.
“I am committed to reinvigorating the Republican Party.”
Dillard told of following Pate Philip as DuPage County Republican Party Chairman.
“When I left, there was 20,000 more margin and 12,000 fewer Democrats.”
Then it was on to the appeal for support:
“The cadence of corruption is this state…has to end.
“[There is] too large a tax burden”
He told of a substantive proposal to lower the sale tax levied on gasoline as well as on the Motor Fuel Tax.
He pointed out that the sales tax on gasoline and the MFT doesn’t even go to fix roads.
“That’s bad public policy,” Dillard asserted.
As he does regularly, Dillard pointed out that he was Chief of Staff for Jim Edger.
Edgar took office with a billion dollars in unpaid bills and left with $1.5 billion in the bank.
He concluded with an exercise of power that saved Harmilda, the cow on Route 14 in Harvard, from disappearing as a result of IDOT’s widening the intersection.
Only seven states do so.
Bruce Rauner was up next.
“We’re gong to make Quinn history as Governor of this state.
“We’re going to do a fundamental turnaround of this state.
“I’m not a politician.
“I’m a self-made businessman.”
He then mentioned the four points he brings out in every talk:
- more jobs
- lower taxes; take down the spending
- better education, including vouchers
- “term limits on all the politicians in Springfield”
He criticized “career politicians making money from their political position.”
Rauner called it “wrong, corrupt.”
“The only way to get them out is term limits,” he contended.
He pledged that he and his lieutenant governor would serve no more than eight years.
Rauner predicted that Quinn’s labor union allies would label him an “evil capitalist.”
“I’m a proud capitalist,” he said pointing out the investments his firm made for Illinois pension funds brought a “net, net 18% rate of return,” while the average investment was 7%.
Citing contacts in Chicago’s black church community, including former State Senator, the Rev. Jim Meeks, he said, “We’re going to steal Quinn’s base.”
Joe Walsh, coming from his WIND radio show, spoke next.
“I wanted to come up and say, ‘Thank you.’
“You’e in this room because you know the Republican Party is broken and we’re going to change that.
He advocated infiltrating the Republican Party.
“Give them a respectful pat on the back when we Tea Party conservatives become committeemen.
“We have too many good ol’ boys.
“We have Republican office holders who are best friends with Jack Franks.
“He’s a Democrat!
Walsh gave the same message I heard when he spoke to the Huntley Area Tea Party in Algonquin:
“If we don’t reinvigorate the Republican Party–if we don’t do that,a third party is coming.
“Let’s respectfully take over the Republican Party in this county.”
Greenwood Township Precinct Committeeman Mike McCleary–one of those indicted by the Special Prosecutor, but, as with all the others, found not guilty, took the stage to announce a new Political Action Committee that will help committeemen pay for their precinct letters and other expenses.
(As an aside, back in the 1960’s each Committeeman got $40 to defray such expenses.)
Then, Salgado gave the floor to Steve Reick, the Republican candidate running against 8-term Democrat Jack Franks.
“I’m not running for Miss Congeniality.
“I’m running to win.
“Everybody’s a friend of Jack.
“He’s every Republican’s favorite Democrat.
“Jack has run for eight terms [while he promised to serve only three] and the first vote he takes is for Mike Madigan.
“He comes back and he’s Mr. Independent.”
Reick pointed to his telling McHenry County constituents that he voted for civil unions, “but I’m against gay marriage.”
“He voted for it.”
Reick told of sitting in the House gallery during the pension debate. Franks said nothing and was the last to cast his vote.
“He voted against the bill because his vote was not needed.
“Mike Madigan is the host and Jack Franks is the disease.”
Joe Walsh approached Reick and, in stirring words, urged strong support for Reick’s candidacy.
In fact, it was the strongest support I have heard him give any candidate.
Salgado asked those running for County Board to come to the stage.
They couldn’t give speeches, but could introduce themselves.
But that wasn’t all.
Primary candidate for State Treasurer Bob Grogan, DuPage County Auditor, had walked in the door.
Gasser urged the crowd to vote for Grogan, rather than someone “who double crossed the Republican Party” (referring to former House Minority Leader Tom Cross, Grogan’s primary opponent).
Grogan was introduced as a person who was both a CPA and a Certified Fraud Examiner.
“If qualified people don’t run, lawyers will,” Grogan said. Cross is an attorney.
He told of using that line and being challenged by an attorney that Lincoln was a lawyer.
“But Lincoln was smart enough not to run for State Treasurer.”
Grogan explained that Cross touted his two decades in Springfield.
“Just because you’ve been the witness to twenty years of bank robberies, [doesn’t make you capable of stopping one].”
Grogan promised that in running for the office of State Treasurer he was seeking “neither a stepping stone or a political consolation prize.”
Sandy Salgado ended the meeting with this observation:
“This hasn’t happened in McHenry County…ever.”