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HomeIllinois NewsCook Co GOP considers dropping GOP committeemen voting history requirement

Cook Co GOP considers dropping GOP committeemen voting history requirement



Download-2CHICAGO – Cook County GOP township and ward committeemen are powerful party positions – ones whose support or opposition can make or break a primary candidate's ballot success.

That fact brought to the forefront a heated discussion among current committeemen about requirements the Cook County GOP currently holds: the requirement that GOP candidates for committeemen must have pulled Republican ballots in the two previous primary elections.

Chicago GOP Chairman Steve Boulton says it's not easy to get people to step up into those powerful political positions. 

"There are a lot of angry Democrats out there now, and I'd like to get them involved in the Chicago GOP.  I asked that the Cook County GOP committeemen consider dropping that requirement so I can get some of these angry Democrats involved this year," Boulton told Illinois Review last week. 

D8bcc658-857e-4443-ae51-0aefef74d5beHe pointed specifically to an angry Democrat that wants to get involved right away – a chance a Republican in Democrat-controlled Chicago can only dream of happening.

But the thought of bringing in untried Democrats into GOP leadership positions did not set well with everyone involved. Indeed, Chicago GOP Secretary Dan Kelley resigned from his position in opposition to the proposed change.  Kelley, an attorney, said he has fought in court the effect "impostors" have had on Republican candidacies in the past.

"We've had Democrats get involved in the Republican Party to simply interfere with challengers to powerful Chicago Democrats," Kelley told Illinois Review. "Ironically, I fought in court alongside Steve Boulton on that very issue, which led to the two primary election voting requirement now in place." 

Kelley said while serving as committeeman himself, he followed up with Democrats that posed as Republicans so they could be election judges. 

The idea that Democrats should be allowed to move directly into GOP party leadership without a proving time such as two primaries was a ludicrous suggestion for Kelley. But he said he's not giving up on the cause.

"I resigned as secretary, but I will stay active in the party," Kelley said.  

Then the idea that recently converted Democrats could be appointed as ward and township committeemen and be handed the political clout to influence thousands of votes in a Republican primary was another concern pointed out.  That, some political insiders told Illinois Review, could be used to heavily influence the GOP primary towards candidates such as Aurora Mayor Richard Irvin, who has a history of voting in Democrat primaries every election other than in 2018, when the Republicans had a competitive gubernatorial primary. 

"I am neutral on the gubernatorial race, that is not a reason to stop this change," Boulton told Illinois Review. "I'm considering withdrawing the resolution from a vote."

However, Cook County GOP Chairman Sean Morrison has endorsed Irvin in the 2022 GOP gubernatorial primary, but that is not the reason for the requirement change consideration, Morrison said. 

In no way would a rule change concerning voting histories make a difference to the Irvin race, he said.

"… [T]he amendment item is up for consideration by the committeemen tonight," Morrison told Illinois Review last week before the meeting. "All of that’s correct. Everything else after that pure is conflation, stupid conflation at that. I have not queried the committee body on this, so I have no idea one way of the other how the body will respond or vote!" 

During last week's meeting, the topic was discussed, but no vote was taken. The requirement for ward and township committeemen to have voted in the past two Republican primaries remains in place. 

That's for now, cynical political doubters tell Illinois Review. It could come up again later – when no one is paying attention. 

That remains to be seen. 


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  1. The Uniparty is scared that Darren Bailey will win the primary and actually be a possibility to beat Pritzker. Every game in the book is being played to stop him in the primary. If Bailey still wins, no doubt many of these same new Cook County “Republican” leaders will denounce Bailey as an “extremist” and then sabotage his efforts to beat Pritzker.

  2. Dan is right.
    Of course we should welcome former Democrats into our party… as voters, as members, as volunteers…
    But the idea of allowing a Democrat to become a Republican ward or township committeman is party suicide.
    The two parties haven’t had similar platforms in over half a century. A person who could comfortably participate in a Democrat primary one year simply cannot be trusted to have made a complete conversion by the filing date less than two years later.
    Welcoming members and welcoming a trojan horse are not the same things at all.
    We want Democrat voters to become Republican because they see something different, something better, something more principled, something more patriotic, than the party they’re leaving.
    If they come over to our side and see the same faces they left, why on earth should they join us?