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HomeIllinois NewsChicago GOP chairman stands up to Rauner's bullying tactics

Chicago GOP chairman stands up to Rauner’s bullying tactics



Chris Cleveland | Photo by DNAInfo

CHICAGO – Chris Cleveland, chairman of the Chicago GOP and a conservative leader in the party, wrote to the IL GOP's State Central Committee this week, expressing the frustrations the conservative base is having with the party's direction and Governor Rauner's bullying tactics within the party ranks. 

State Central Committee member,
I'm writing to alert you to a problem with the Rauner campaign's use of state party resources, and to problems within the state party generally.
A few days ago, a Chicago GOP staffer was informed that he could no longer use a desk within state party headquarters. We had put him there a few days a week so we could coordinate our activities with the state party. In the past, the city GOP has frequently supplied volunteers for state party-backed candidates.
The reason they offered was a press report that I was under consideration as Rep. Jeanne Ives running mate. (Jeanne and I have talked, but as of this moment she has not yet made a final decision, and she has a number of very good candidates to choose from.)

Subsequently, the state party cut off our GOPDataCenter access.
Consider what has happened here: the Rauner campaign has ordered the state party to cut off an elected, regular Republican organization, based purely on the rumor that the head of the organization *might* be working with a candidate in a primary against him.
To the best of my knowledge, the state central committee has neither endorsed nor slated Bruce Rauner. And given the widespread doubt within the Republican Party over his policy choices and his ability to execute, it seems to me that some dissent is warranted.
But whether you love him or hate him, this behavior is abusive, and the state central committee should not stand for it.
Our difficulties with the state party go beyond this recent behavior.
It has long been the position of senior staffers in the state party that the Chicago GOP should not be running candidates in the city. The theory is that this just "activates" the other side and reminds them that there is an election. We in the Chicago GOP have rejected this position, and believe that a vigorous attack in the belly of the beast has many benefits.
While the Chicago GOP is a small organization, and Chicago is often derided as a Democratic bastion, the number of Republican voters here is not small. We cover 7.5% of the Republican voters in the state, more than any county except Cook and DuPage, with 20,000 more voters than the next largest county, Lake. You ignore this constituency at your peril.
Four years ago, we ran candidates across the city for the purpose of generating enthusiasm and volunteers for phone calls and door knocks. In close coordination with the Rauner campaign, we flooded their offices with volunteers and executed 363,000 voter contacts, 263,000 of which were door knocks. We were able to raise Rauner's vote in Chicago to 20.63%, just a hair above the magic 20% threshold. And he won.
If Rauner is on the ballot this fall, this won't happen. Not because we wouldn't want to; we're loyal Republicans and Rauner over Pritzker would be an easy choice. It won't happen because the state party has consistently undermined our efforts to recruit here, and because there is zero enthusiasm for this governor. Even prior to HB 40, we couldn't get people to sign his petition.
It's past time for the state central committee to step in and right the ship. First, I ask that you prevail upon Bruce Rauner to stop the petty retribution. This is the Republican Party, not the mob, and it's time for them to grow up.
Second, I ask that you consider separating the state party apparatus from the Rauner campaign. They are acting as one and the same, but our party is bigger than Bruce, and we have broader concerns than his personal well-being. Notably, we need to take back the House, and we have two very viable candidates for state rep in Chicago, both of whom *might actually win*. A party must support such activities.
I am open to discussing this matter with any of you individually.

Chris Cleveland

Chairman, Chicago Republican Party


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  1. All this guy knows how to do is LOSE. Governor Rauner & Sean Morrison needs to call a special session to remove this clown and get a City GOP Leader who supports our GOVERNOR.
    The weighted vote is with the Governor and this guy will be gone!

  2. The Chairman of the Chicago GOP needs to be either 41st Ward Committeeman Mike McAuliffe – who knows how to BEAT MADIGAN – or Percy Coleman – who will lead a Chicago Black Republican Renaissance. Kessem & Biela won’t even get 40% in their races because they have the idiots running the Chicago GOP running their campaigns.

  3. Rauner is running 38% approval with Republicans and yet the problem is Chris Cleveland? James Marter got 29% against a less hated incumbent and the only money he had was gas for his car. Imagine what any reasonable candidate could do with some funding, like Al Salvi did in 1996. Bruce Rauner has zero chance of winning even against a bad candidate like Pritzker. Given everything he has done from lying to the Cardinal on tax funded abortion to Sanctuary State to automatic registration to vote when you get a drivers license, it’s hard imagine what more he could do to wreck the Republican Party. It wouldn’t surprise me if this Trojan Horse for the Dems would just go through the motions and spend little once the filing deadline is past. The chumps that have supported him from the beginning and still defend him now would have nothing to do but to take their ill gotten gains and get out of the state, leaving the rest of us holding the bag.

  4. Both the Illinois brands of Tea Party and GOP Establishment are IRRELEVANT, MEANINGLESSNESS, and EXTINCT in the Land of Lincoln.
    The crackpots in the Illinois Tea Party and GOP Establishment leadership backed a hard core leftist named Bruce Rauner.
    The intelligence factors of the Illinois brands of Tea Party and GOP Establishment prove you cannot fix stupid.
    Don’t forget the cry of the Benedict Arnold Tea Party leader in Illinois who screamed at people to put on their big boy pants and vote for LEFTIST Bruce Rauner.

  5. North Cook Tea Party…Rauner is a zombie governor walking. Won’t vote for him if he paid me (which in Chicago is considered okay). If they don’t run anyone against him in the primary, I know MANY who won’t vote at all. Stick a fork in him, he’s done.

  6. That’s odd, I didn’t know that ilgop.com pointed at chicagogop.com. It isn’t my doing, and I’m not sure who owns that domain name. If I find out I’ll ask them to redirect it to the proper place.

  7. @North Cook Tea Party:
    Percy Coleman has not attended a single meeting of the Cook County Republican Central Committee in more than a year. His weighted vote is negligible. McAuliffe withstood a challenge by a Madigan ally by spending over $2 million of Rauner’s money.
    You seem unfamiliar with the facts and the election code. Lie down and put a cold rag on your head.

  8. If OUR GOVERNOR wants Chris Cleveland replaced, it will happen. The weighted vote is with the Governor – Cleveland would not have gotten 10% of the votes he received if people knew he planned this clown show Ives skullduggery.

  9. Bruce Rauner isn’t about to dance off of the stage (since he bought it and owns it). He will be looking over his shoulder though since Jeanne Ives has announced her decision to run against Rauner in the Primary on March 20,2018. Trump showed Rauner and Hillary that money doesn’t buy votes. Money buys the means to acquire name recognition if a candidate is deficient in it but it doesn’t necessarily buy you a vote. Jeanne Ives will likely pull in a great number of women’s votes. Maybe it is time for Illinois to let a woman governor clean up the mess made by former male governors?

  10. Rauner has been a dismal failure as governor, starting with his failure to rebuild the Republican party. I have lived in two suburban townships since his election and the Republican party is dead in both. All those TV ads are about Rauner (or Madigan) and will not help win the legislature. That takes grass roots organizing and funding at the local level, which is not happening.

  11. Will there be a response to the Rauner Party’s (“IL GOP’s”) retaliation against Illinois Review for this article? Because I hear that Rauner isn’t pleased that IR isn’t his b#%&! anymore…