Sunday afternoon, the Chicago Republican organization voted to endorse Paul Vallas for mayor. Last week the Chicago Young Republicans and Northwest Chicago GOP supported Willie Wilson, as does Cook County GOP Chairman and Board Commissioner Sean Morrison.
According to a statement issued by the Chicago Republicans, Paul Vallas was supported by 16 committeemen,
Willie Wilson by nine committeemen, Garry McCarthy by two, Jerry Joyce by one. Three committeemen declined to endorse.
Committeemen voting for Vallas cited his strong knowledge of city government, personal honesty, willingness to take on corruption, and ability to tackle difficult budget problems.
Committeemen voting for Wilson cited his compelling personal story, success in business, outsider status, and ability to appeal to a broad swath of the city.
Republicans currently get approximately 20% of the vote in the City of Chicago in any competitive statewide race. The Republican vote in a Chicago municipal election is untested, the group says, because it has been decades since a strong Republican candidate has run for mayor. This year, however, Republicans are likely to have a significant impact, the group says, because there are 14 candidates in the race, with no single candidate polling over 15%. Top candidates are separated by only a few points. Republican voters could single-handedly get a candidate into the runoff.
"Candidates for mayor need to listen to us," said Chris Cleveland, chairman of the Chicago GOP. "In any election in which there are multiple competitive Democrats, we decide which one wins."
"If you think of us as a political party, we're not a very strong one," Cleveland said. "But if you think of us as an interest group, we're an 800 pound gorilla. Name another interest group that gets 20% of the vote. No one else comes close."