This is the second in a series of five article by former Marengo resident John Biver about why people should run for Precinct Committeeman. The articles are reprinted with permission of IFI.
What a Precinct Committeeman Is, And Why Conservatives Need to Run for the Office
Written by John Biver
In our first post we quoted from Fay Voshell’s recent article, “The Little Hand,” words that should stir everyone on the political right into action. Voshell’s post is political writing at its best, and in my view — it is political writing as art. Speaking of art, here are a couple of lines spoken to idle troops during a battle in Shakespeare’s Henry V:
It is no time to discourse. The town is beseeched, and the trumpet call us to the breach, and we talk and, be Chrish [by Christ], do nothing, ’tis shame for us all.
Clearly, human nature hasn’t changed in the last four centuries.
This series of articles is being written to encourage more of you to run for the party office of precinct committeeman. If you absolutely cannot run yourself, then you have a duty to help recruit those who can.
What exactly is a precinct committeeman?
It is the person who presents the big political picture to Americans at street level.
The political arena is mostly a mystery to regular Americans.
The role and operation of the political parties is even less well known.
It’s easy to see the election campaigns and read the news stories about candidates and office holders.
It’s not as easy to see the actual workings of the machine behind it.
While many dramatic portrayals on television and in film do a fine job over all, most of the finer details get left out.
To start at the important beginning, let’s define what a political party is — here’s as good a definition as any:
A political party is an organization of people which seeks to achieve goals common to its members through the acquisition and exercise of political power.
Note — that’s not the definition of a think tank or issue advocacy organization or talk radio show or political website or what goes on via social media.
The acquisition and exercise of political power is the purview of political parties.
If you’re not currently helping to fight the battle inside a political party, you are on the outside of where political power is acquired and exercised. [Emphasis added.]
Political party structures vary by state and locality, and here’s a general outline going from top down. There exists the National Party — in the case of the GOP, it’s the Republican National Committee, made up of members from each of the states.
In Illinois there is a statewide committee, called the Central Committee, which is made up of members elected within Illinois congressional districts by the votes of precinct committeemen at county conventions.
County-level parties have their own committees, and township and ward level parties typically are governed by a board, elected by the township or ward precinct committeemen.
One important variant should be noted before going any further. In Cook County there are no elected precinct committeemen, but rather precinct captains that are appointed by the township or ward chairman who is elected by Republican voters on the GOP primary ballot in even-numbered years.
Have you got that memorized? Just kidding. But it’s a good idea to understand the basic structure.
Okay, now… What is a precinct committeeman?
Let me quote from the single best article on the web answering that question — it can be found here at Republican News Watch (RNW), which is based in Chicago. The site contains a wealth of information, and you would be wise to make use of the resources found there. RNW is the work of Doug Ibendahl and Cathy Santos, two long-time party veterans.
Here’s just an excerpt:
What is a Republican Precinct Committeeman?
A Republican Precinct Committeeman represents the GOP voters of his or her precinct at the County Republican Party level.
But most importantly, a Republican Precinct Committeeman is the face of the GOP within the precinct. In many cases, a Republican Precinct Committeeman might be the only party official a voter ever meets in person.
This volunteer position is really what one makes of it. Some do more than others. But the Republican Precinct Committeeman’s job is in essence all about helping to grow the GOP and working to deliver the maximum number of Republican votes from his or her precinct on Election Day. Precinct Committeemen comprise the core of any grassroots effort and no political campaign can be successful without these front line GOP ambassadors.
The principle means of doing the job is just an extension of what most people already do – talking to the neighbors.
By becoming a Republican Precinct Committeeman you can take a leadership role in advancing the Republican Platform principles of lower taxes, smaller government, fiscal responsibility, individual freedom, strong national defense, and traditional family values.
Be sure to click here to read the entire article, as well as answers to important questions such as these in their Frequently Asked Questions section:
When is the next election for Republican Precinct Committeemen? And how do I get on the ballot?
What are the legal requirements?
Are all Republican Precinct Committeemen elected?
Is the County Chairman required to appoint Republican Precinct Committeemen to the vacant precincts in his or her county?
I submitted a request to my County Chairman seeking to be appointed as Republican Precinct Committeeman for a vacant precinct, but have not received a response even after multiple follow-up attempts. What can I do?
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It takes 10 good signatures to get on the ballot for precinct committeeman (Republican, Democrat, Green). I would suggest getting 20 because at least one candidate got knocked off the ballot because one of her ten signatures was not of a voter currently registered in her precinct.
Petitions may be circulated beginning September 1st. They may be filed November 27 through December 4. Because there will be a vigorous contest for control of the McHenry County Republican Central Committee next spring, I suggest candidates wait until the last day to file. That way “the other side” will probably not have time to find someone to run against you.
Here’s where you can find the petition on the McHenry County Clerk’s web site. Print two copies and fill them both.