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Di Leo: A Bigger Enemy than Democrat Money and the MSM

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By John F. Di Leo – 

It is estimated that 100,000 people leave the state of Illinois every year. It is difficult to know exactly what this means, as people move in as well as move out, and many of the incoming are either legal immigrants or illegal aliens.

But one thing is certain: the hundred thousand who depart each year are workers, employers, taxpayers. The very people you need for not only a functioning economy but also a functioning republic.

For an electoral process to work, for it to produce elected officials with the right mentality to run the government in a fashion conducive to an ever-increasing standard of living for its constituents, the majority of the electorate has to have skin in that game.

Looking at results like the Illinois 2022 midterms produced, it is understandable if one comes to the quick conclusion that Illinois is over… that Illinois has passed the point of no return.

But that is a snap judgment, not entirely born out of the facts.


It is too soon for a full, objective analysis of Illinois‘s performance in the midterms. There will be polling data worth studying in detail, and more can be learned. But there are some things we know already:

The Failed State

Illinois is on track to becoming a failed state.

It already was, of course, in many ways. Illinois has been a sanctuary state for a decade, inviting criminal illegal aliens in by the hundreds of thousands, to increase, at best, our welfare burden, and at worst, our growing crime wave. And Illinois is on an economic death spiral, bleeding taxpaying individuals and businesses at the same time it is going into ever-greater government debt, by refusing to reform a bureaucratic hiring system and pension system that are both utterly unsustainable.

Every election is a chance to turn this around; in most elections, as in this one, Illinois misses that chance and makes it all worse.

The Party Problem

It is no surprise to anyone that the Illinois state Republican party is ineffective. Ever since campaign finance reform began in the 1970s on the national scene, state parties have had a rough time with it. The more affluent a society gets, the more our political lobbies, on both sides, can grow to the strength of parties in their own right.

We have unions, especially the SEIU and the various teachers’ unions, with greater strength than the Democratic party. We have business-oriented PACs and single-issue associations which could just as easily wield more strength than the Republican party. In some states they do.

Here in Illinois, however, the Democratic party and its allies have grown steadily in power and reach, while those on the right have tended to diminish.

Why? Why has the Illinois Republican coalition become so ineffective over the years? Those shifting population numbers and demographics certainly play a part in it. But they don’t tell the whole story.

While the Illinois Republican party, much like the national Republican party, in fact, has often had some solid leaders… the majority of its leaders have been poor, seemingly more interested in infighting between the conservative and liberal wings of the Republican party than in defeating Democrats.

The Republican party in Illinois is also known, even more so than the national, for forcing its candidates to campaign as individuals. While Illinois has plenty of personally-popular individual Democrats, the Democrat brand in Illinois – as a brand – is as foul as anywhere in the country, the ripest political target imaginable. Why doesn’t the Illinois Republican party ever concentrate on that?

Why doesn’t the Illinois Republican party run party identification advertising, to compete with the Democrats? A single ad – a commercial on YouTube or radio, or a highway billboard, tying our state’s crime problems to the Democrats as a group would do infinitely more help than the thousands of expensive candidate flyers that flood our mailboxes each year.

But Illinois Republicans don’t do that, do they? If they have a million dollars to spend, they write a stack of $20,000 checks to each individual candidate.

Why?  To be generous, we may tell ourselves that they think the candidates can use the cash best themselves. But to be cynical, we are more likely to conclude that the party leaders want their future officeholders to remember who signed those $20,000 checks. This party’s leaders sure seem to value gratitude over victory.

This was an incredibly expensive race, even for the Republicans. And we have nothing to show for it in Illinois, nothing at all, for a reason: we made our state rep, state senate, county board, and congressional candidates spend a mint on direct mail, without giving them the support that they needed in broad party outreach to the public mind.

The Hard Numbers

As Illinoisans watched the returns come in Tuesday night, there are some things we don’t know, and we will never know. We don’t know how many of those votes were real and how many were fabricated. How many were conscious residents casting ballots intentionally, versus how many were nursing homes, college dorms, apartment buildings, and cemeteries, farmed for their names and cast by precinct captains, landlords, nursing home administrators, or bureaucrats? There is no way to know.

But we do know how many hard numbers were published in each race. We know the percentages, as they showed up on our television screens and scarred our memories.

We know that we were told that Pritzker and Duckworth would skate to victory with 60-40 landslides.  Scary predictions.

We know that, in fact, incumbent Democrat Tammy Duckworth was reelected with 56%. We know that incumbent billionaire democrat JB Pritzker was reelected with 54%.

Those are strong percentages. But not insurmountable ones. In the right year, with the right candidates, the right campaigns, the right messaging, and the right confidence from the public, they were winnable.

But we were told that they were not winnable – by people to whom we should never have listened – from the beginning.

Donors were discouraged from even considering Darren Bailey and Kathy Salvi in Illinois. As soon as they were selected in our primary, the republican party structure and many of its voters gave up on them. Instantly.

We will never know how much money the Democrats spent in Illinois to win those percentages. One commonly-cited number was 38 million dollars for Pritzker versus 2 million for Bailey. To come that close, being outspent 20 to 1, is pretty darned good.

Perhaps we shouldn’t have given up on them, after all?

And let’s look at the U.S. House seats that we lost on Tuesday. Eric Sorenson beat Esther Joy King, 52 to 48. Lauren Underwood beat Scott Grider 54 to 46. Sean Casten beat Keith Pekau, also 54 to 46.

A lot of us were given the impression that our statewide races were going to be a 60-40 or even 65-35 blow out election for the Democrats. As a result, what happened?

Republican voters stayed home.

A Self-fulfilling Prophesy

And this is the real problem with the Illinois election of 2022. Some percentage of Republican voters and donors, probably a large percentage, sat out the election this year.

Bitter voters and donors who had supported others in the Republican primary convinced themselves that Bailey and Salvi had no chance, so they gave up. They didn’t donate, they didn’t put out yard signs, they didn’t walk precincts, and they didn’t even vote.

“If the gubernatorial nominee and the Senate nominee have no chance, then what would be the point?”

What these disheartened or bitter pessimists didn’t realize was that there are races that matter – down-ballot – which we can win, and ordinarily do win, even if we lose at the state-wide level.

There are enough Republicans to elect state reps, state senators, and congressmen in Illinois.

JB Pritzker has so much money, if he saw his poll numbers dropping, he probably could have poured more money into his own race in the closing weeks and still won, maybe, no matter what.

But that would not have been the case for those down-ballot races.

If Illinois Republican voters had turned out in their normal numbers, Illinois would not have had the bloodbath at the congressional and state legislative, and county levels that we saw this year.

There was a red wave across this country. Not quite as big as had been predicted, but a wave nevertheless. Maybe that wave would not have carried Illinois’ state constitutional offices… But even if that’s the case, there’s no reason why Republicans couldn’t have beaten Underwood, Casten, and Sorenson. There’s no reason why we couldn’t have seen some decent pick-ups in Springfield.

In the final analysis, defeatism and pessimism are together a much bigger enemy than Democrat money and biased mass media.

The national mood is such that the Republican victories on Tuesday have been dampened by the media narrative that there was no red wave at all. Guess what?  Illinois is a fundamental reason for that narrative.

If Illinois had picked up a couple of GOP congressmen on Tuesday – which it certainly could have – that fact alone would have colored Tuesday night’s reporting. And that might even have inspired more defeatism on the left side of the aisle, as the night wore on, and as concentration moved to the west coast.

Everything matters in politics. Everything.

Every state, every congressional district, every state rep district. Every county board seat.

Maybe Cook County is gone like they tell us. Maybe it’s too late to save. But the rest of the state? Oh no.

The Democrats didn’t beat Republican candidates downstate this time. Republican defeatism did.

Copyright 2022 John F Di Leo

John F. Di Leo is a Chicagoland-based trade compliance trainer and transportation manager, writer, and actor. A one-time county chairman of the Milwaukee County Republican Party, he has been writing regularly for Illinois Review since 2009.  

 A collection of John’s Illinois Review articles about vote fraud, The Tales of Little Pavel, and his 2021 political satires about current events, Evening Soup with Basement Joe, Volumes One and Two, are available, in either paperback or eBook, only on Amazon.

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1 COMMENT

  1. =It already was, of course, in many ways. Illinois has been a sanctuary state for a decade, inviting criminal illegal aliens in by the hundreds of thousands, to increase, at best, our welfare burden, and at worst, our growing crime wave. ‘

    Don’t just use the criminal alien angle. it is illegals themselves. They and/ or their children vote for Democrats. And as White’s leave Illinois that is the ‘tipping point’ as to why Illinois is no longer a swing state but a Depp Blue state.