McHenry County Republican Party Follows in Footsteps of Cal Skinner

The McHenry County Republican Central Committee has moved.

Right into my father’s and my old office space in the tip of the “V” at the Crystal Lake Plaza.

In the early 1970’s, Dad has his Barley and Malt Institute office there before he moved it across from the train station at the corner of Woodstock and Brink Streets.

That’s where he and his allies brought forth the slate of 8 “Responsible Republicans” to challenge the candidates put up by the local GOP Establishment in District 1 after a Federal court decision required that county board districts be re-apportioned on a one-man, one-vote basis.

No longer would every township supervisor be automatically on the county board, with larger townships having extra representation, but not in proportion to population.

The days of the Alden, Burton, Coral, Dunham, Hartland, Seneca and other small townships automatically having representation on the county board were over.

The Algonquin-Grafton Township slate of “(John) Bick to (Brad) Burns” slate lost, with Dad coming in 9th. He got more votes than any candidate in Districts 2 or 3, however, and was elected two years later.

After that special 1972 primary election was over in late January, No. 8 in the Plaza was headquarters for my first campaign for state representative.

Perhaps noteworthy was that this office was the headquarters for the kNOw RTA campaign in the spring of 1974. Dad’s hobby was printing and he had two offset machines in the back.

Working as much as 24-hours a day, people like my father and Forrest Hare ran presses to print the anti-RTA pamphlets that were distributed all of the six-county area.

During that campaign, I picked up the phone once and heard my father’s name. I apologized for interrupting the conversation and went into his office to do so in person.

To my surprise he was not and had not been on the phone.

I concluded that someone had tapped the phone line.

That led to our realizing how important that little back room was to someone other than ourselves.

There was a lot of money at stake in this referendum.

The Crystal Lake Police Department was kind enough to send a car past the back door once an hour.

The paper ballot referendum officially to bail out the Chicago Transit Authority passed by less that 13,000 votes. That night about nine I heard the first Mayor Daley being asked about his side of the referendum not winning.

“Oh, I don’t know about that,” he replied. “We have stopped casting the ballots.”

Now, Mayor Daley was known for his malopropisms, but, in this case, I think Daley was telling what was happening in Chicago precincts as “No” votes were being turned into spoiled ballots by having judges put X’s into the “Yes” boxes so two votes were cast.

And, if you think I am kidding, let me tell you about one precinct that State Representative and Schaumburg Township Republican Chairman Don Totten’s people discovered while color coding the results of every precinct in Chicago.

There was one precinct that went 100% for the Regional Transportation Authority referendum.

There were about 80 “Yes” votes, no “No” votes and 60 spoiled ballots.

The ward was going about 60% for the referendum.

No recount was allowed by the newly-created Illinois State Board of Elections—not exactly a profile in courage, but, considering the Establishment in both the Republican and Democratic Parties favored creation of the RTA, not much of a surprise.

So, the new location of the McHenry County Republican Party is one from which large projects can be run.

Instead of having a friendly hairdresser between the office and H.C. Stamp and Coin Company (probably the oldest tenant in the Plaza) the GOP will have the friendly owner of Moseley Plumbing. I served with his daughter Vickie Moseley in the Illinois General Assembly in the 1990’s until Raymond (“Think Poe”) Poe beat her.

Hours at the new GOP office will initially be Tuesday and Thursday, 11AM – 5PM, and Saturday from 10-2.

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The kNOw RTA pamphlet was used by opponents of the 1974 referendum to create the Regional Transportation Authority. If there were ever a grass roots campaign, this was it. Opposition snowballed as election day approached. Most active opponents were freshmen state representatives elected after the 1970 re-apportionment.

The “kNOw” combination was resurrected by Chicago Sun-Times graphic artist and long-time reporter Tom Frisbie for the Iraq election.

The lapel button was given me by former State Rep. Gene Hoffman. He found as he was cleaning out his stuff after he retired. Hoffman is the one who put House Republican Leader Lee Daniels in office.

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