By Illinois Review
OAK BROOK, IL – Speaking to a room full of the inner-most circle of the IL GOP this past Monday, Congressman Byron Donalds (FL-19, R) said to win races, Illinois Republicans must engage with diverse communities and younger voters.
“Those who are in the room do not win elections,” Rep. Donalds said. “To win elections, you need those who are not in the room.”
Presumably “the room” was Donalds’ characterization of the Republican establishment elite. Indeed, sitting in the room were embattled IL GOP Chair Don Tracy, 7th District IL State Central Committeeman Mark Hosty among other committeemen, newly-elected IL Senate Minority Leader John Curran, newly-selected IL House GOP Leader Tony McCombie, RNC Committeemen Richard Porter and Demetre DeMonte, former IL Comptroller Leslie Munger, along with several dozen members of the IL GOP donor class.
Porter was a co-host of the event.
Donalds did not go so far as to say everyone in the room was out of touch. Identifying two servers in the room, Donalds stated they “likely could tell you more about winning elections than anyone in the room.”
Both were minorities and likely not sharing the economic status of the IL GOP leadership and donor class whom they were busily serving.
Donalds’ statement was met with awkward silence.
In other words, Donalds beat the drum that IL Republicans have heard time and time before: to earn enough votes to win elections, we must engage diverse communities and the working class, communities that Donald Trump rallied to win the presidency in 2016.
Donalds encouraged everyone in the room to go to a Black church, “not to speak as so many politicians often do, but to listen.”
Among those at the back of the room was Pastor Donald Johnson of Rock Island, who shook his head in agreement.
Citing his three teenage children as examples, Donalds told the crowd that reaching voters ages 18-29 also is critical to winning elections. Donalds stated, “Gen Z is conservative. They just haven’t realized it yet.”
Donalds spoke about how Gen Z “has customized lives, from the wallpaper on their iPhones, to the music they listen to on Spotify, to the food they order on Door Dash that is delivered to their bedrooms.”
“Do you think the most customized generation in the history of our country wants a singular solution pushed on them by big government?” Donalds asked.
Donalds also tempered expectations of those in the room by stating that this was a long game.
“Illinois won’t turn red in an election cycle,” Donalds said. “But by engaging all communities with our conservative message on crime, economy, and education, you can turn Illinois from Deep Ocean Blue to Periwinckle.” Donalds quipped.
“You might not be able to get better than Periwinckle in Illinois, but Periwinckle would be a big improvement.”