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The Big Lie: How Don Tracy and the IL GOP Supported Democrat Richard Irvin’s Primary Campaign

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By Illinois Review

In a February 22, 2022 article about the Richard Irvin campaign taking over the IL GOP, chairman Don Tracy was initially not available for a comment. But shortly after the article went live, Tracy changed his mind, and offered this to say,

“The Illinois Republican Party has been neutral and will always be neutral in the GOP primary for governor. Any accusation that we are coordinating with a particular campaign is absolutely false and I find it personally offensive to suggest otherwise.”

Tracy then concluded,

“It is our duty as the state party to focus on and take the fight to Gov. Pritzker on a daily basis. I’m proud of our efforts. All Republicans and every campaign at every level should be pointing out how Pritzker is a disaster for our state.”

But this statement by Tracy is a lie, and the IL GOP was never neutral during the GOP primary for governor.

In exclusive audio recently obtained by Illinois Review, Tracy admitted during a July meeting with conservative leaders that the Irvin campaign for governor was allowed to use the IL GOP postage discount for mailers – a perk not afforded to other candidates for governor during the primary.

Using the IL GOP postage discount can save a statewide campaign tens of thousands of dollars on mailers – a unique perk for the Irvin campaign considering billionaire Ken Griffin’s support and $50 million.

Tracy acknowledges use of the postage discount in the recording, but says the IL GOP was taking its “direction from the House Caucus and the Senate Caucus.”

In other words, Tracy is merely a puppet taking orders from House GOP Minority leader Jim Durkin and Senate GOP Minority leader Dan McConchie.

A pitiful and astonishing admission from the chairman of the Republican Party of Illinois.

Durkin was an early supporter of the Irvin campaign and was highlighted on the original endorsement list.

McConchie didn’t officially endorse Irvin, but he praised him in an interview with reporter Mark Maxwell the day after Irvin entered the race.

“He’s the only candidate that is from the suburbs,” and serving as mayor in a town where he grew up, “I think that’s a great story,” said McConchie during the interview.

Although Tracy didn’t officially endorse Irvin during the primary, his personal donation records show that he only contributed to candidates aligned with Irvin’s campaign.

And in a document shared exclusively with Illinois Review, it was recently revealed that in September, Tracy appointed new members of the IL GOP Executive Committee – and besides including current state central committee members, Tracy made three more additional appointments including Nimish Jani, who rigged the Lake County Republican straw poll by bussing in Indian-American senior citizens in favor of Richard Irvin.

DuPage County board member and chairman of the DuPage County GOP Jim Zay and Sangamon County Administrator Brad Mills were the other two appointments.

And what do Zay and Mills have in common? They both endorsed Irvin for governor.

In May, it was revealed in first quarter campaign filings that the Irvin campaign spent over $546,000 on payroll including staffers and political consultants. The filings also revealed a direct connection to Tracy and the IL GOP.

From January 2019 to January 2020, Derek Murphy served as Executive Director of the IL GOP. In January 2022, Murphy joined the Irvin campaign as Deputy Campaign Manager.

From January 2020 to January 2022, Anthony Sarros served as Executive Director of the IL GOP. In January 2022, Sarros joined the Irvin campaign as Senior Political Director.

On February 9, 2021, Tracy was elected chairman of the Illinois Republican Party – meaning Sarros was his top deputy and closest confidante before resigning his position as Executive Director of the IL GOP and taking a role with the Irvin campaign.

It was also revealed that the Irvin campaign hired Elaine “Eleni” Demertzis, House GOP Minority leader Jim Durkin’s spokesperson since 2017; Jon Nelson, former senior staffer to Senate GOP Minority leader Dan McConchie, who interestingly is also a former Durkin staffer; and John Fogarty, the longtime general counsel to the Illinois Republican Party.

Fogarty serving as general counsel to Tracy and the IL GOP, and paid legal advisor to the Irvin campaign certainly presents the potential of a conflict of interest.

It also once again proves Tracy’s earlier statement that the IL GOP was neutral during the GOP primary for governor as a total lie.

The Illinois Republican Party was not neutral during the primary for governor, and this should serve as “cause” for removing Tracy and other senior IL GOP leaders from their positions within the party.

Tracy is either a liar or incompetent. Or both.

Either way, he’s lost the trust of Republicans in Illinois – especially the grassroots, and it’s time for him to plan his exit.

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