Joe Wiegand Concedes 16th Congressional District State Central Committeeman Race

Joe Wiegard did reach the top of this mountain on the Applachian Trail

With nine counties having voted on the two candidates for Congressman Don Manzullo’s 16th District state party post, State Senator Dave Syverson has come out on top.

That’s what I read between the lines of the following email that just arrived from challenger Joe Wiegand.

And, even though he doesn’t know the final results, that’s what he told me:

“I have enough information to know I lost.

“While I won overwhelmingly in Stephenson, Carroll and DeKalb Counties, I lost Winnebago by 14 raw votes on the ballot of elected committeemen (which is Syverson’s home county) at which point Chairman Jan Klaas kept her pledge to vote vacant precincts on behalf of the winner of the raw vote.”

I was asked last night at the McHenry County Republican Party Convention whether Wiegand supported Senate Bill 600, the legislation that would allow voters to again directly elect their state central committeeman.

The 2010 McHenry County Republican Party Convention

I said I didn’t know, but, that, if direct election were in effect, Wiegand would have no chance to win. Syverson has such a higher name identification in the Rockford media market, which covers most of the 16th District, Syverson would win walking away.

So, if direct election were in effect, most of them would end up being elected officials.

From the email below, you can see that Wiegand does favor direct election of the party office.

I’ve lived under both systems and, frankly, I don’t think it makes any difference.

In my experience, the Illinois Republican State Central Committee has only been useful when Governor Jim Edgar got them to mail absentee ballot applications to all GOP voters in the state and another mailing urging people to vote.  I found it useful because it contained my name as a candidate for state representative.

Democratic House Speaker Tip O’Neill was right:

All politics is local.

There is not much some state organization can do to energize a local party, if the local party isn’t interested in recruiting new people.

That’s the problem I’ve seen since I got active in 1966, when I ran for McHenry County Treasurer.

Let me give you an example.

There were four Republican Women’s Clubs then.  At the congressional district level, there was the 12th District Republican Women’s Club that Congressman Robert McClory shepherded.  Crystal Lake’s Margaret Jenner was big in that.

Then, there was the one my mother was active in—the Algonquin Township Republican Women’s Club. That’s where McHenry County Recorder of Deeds Phyllis Walters got her start.

McHenry Township had a Republican Women’s Club in which Boots Davis was active.  So, did Dorr Township.  My predecessor and successor as County Treasurer Audrey Walgenbach introduced me to it.

They have disappeared to be replaced by one McHenry County Republican Women’s Club.  I recognize all the officers’ names but one and they all are long-time party activists.

But, back to Wiegand’s email. It is below:

Joe Wiegand

I want to thank the elected Republican precinct committeemen throughout the nine northwestern counties of Illinois for their votes for me last night in the contest for 16th Congressional District State Central Committeeman.The battle within the Illinois Republican Party continues between those who would renew our commitment to the Lincoln/Reagan standards and those who have been at the helm during our days of scandal and failure.

Illinois Democrats elect their state party leadership in their primary election.

Illinois Republicans use a system that is a mixture of backroom politics and kabuki theatre, using county conventions and a convoluted set of bylaws and procedures, often, in the view of some legal scholars, in violation of Illinois state statutes.

My experience as a candidate informs me that the need for Illinois Republican Primary voters to directly elect their state party leaders is necessary for our future prosperity.  The need for passage of Senate Bill 600, which would return control of the party back to the voters, is paramount.

I guarantee you that the nine county conventions in the 16th district were held in nine different ways.

One hour before the beginning of a western county convention, I was still explaining the convoluted system to a soon to be elected chairman who did not understand the process.

When I attended the county convention of the district’s largest county (Winnebago), several newly elected committeemen had no idea what the state central committeeman’s post was nor how this election would take place.  Despite my being in attendance, rules were adopted to prohibit me from making a two minute speech to the committeemen as a candidate for the office for which they were about to vote.

As long as we elect our state central committee in the manner conducted last night, as long as public employees, tax eaters and hangers-on have the votes that are denied to grassroots Republican citizens, the Party of Lincoln and Reagan will continue to be the Party of George Ryan, Stuart Levine, Robert Kjellander and Bill Cellini, and the people of Illinois will suffer for it.  We need Senate Bill 600.

Finally, one idea I shared in my campaign was that the birthplace and cradle of Ronald Reagan should be a bevy of Republican Party building activity in the months ahead as we prepare to celebrate his 100th birthday on February 6, 2011.

Were I your state central committeeman, I would have made sure that the counties of the 14th, 16th and 17th Congressional Districts used this event to build the party, attract regional and national exposure and host an event or series of events bringing the GOP’s brightest lights to the region that bred the man who changed the world.

I ask the elected state central committeemen, the county chairmen and the precinct committeemen to give some leadership to this effort.

We live to fight another day.

Joe Wiegand


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