By Illinois Review
The IL GOP State Central Committee (SCC) – the governing board of the Illinois Republican Party – comprises 17 committeemen, one from each of the congressional districts in Illinois, plus a National Committeeman and a National Committeewoman to serve as members on the Republican National Committee (RNC).
Kirkland & Ellis senior partner Richard Porter and Demetra DeMonte are serving in their second terms as the National Committeemen, and under the IL GOP Bylaws, they are termed out in 2024.
But as calls for embattled IL GOP Chair Don Tracy to step down grow louder in the face of an imminent US Postal Service audit, sources confirm to Illinois Review that Porter is quietly whipping the vote among SCC members to amend the Bylaws to provide DeMonte and him with third terms.
The Bylaws were amended, effective January 1, 2015, to provide for term limits for all members of the SCC, including the National Committeemen. No member of the SCC can serve more than eight consecutive years. For Porter and DeMonte, that means they cannot seek reelection in 2024 and must step down.
Among conservative circles in Illinois, it is no secret that IL GOP Finance Committee Chair Vince Kolber and District 3 Committeewoman Jeanne Ives have been eying a potential 2024 run for the National Committeemen positions. The two have been working together for years, as Ives stated at the December 10, 2022 SCC meeting that Kolber gave her $750,000 for her failed 2018 gubernatorial primary challenge against incumbent establishment-Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner.
But Porter’s new plans to change the Bylaws to remove the term limits would appear to dash Kolber’s and Ives’ hopes and may be further evidence of the deepening rift among SCC members.
Amending existing laws to extend power is not uncommon at the international level. In 2018, China’s President Xi Jinping changed the constitution and amended the presidential two-term limit to make him “president for life.” In 2021, Russia’s President Vladamir Putin changed Russian law to eliminate the two-term presidential limit – extending his power until 2036, making him one of the longest serving leaders since the Russian Empire.
It’s also no secret that Porter has been engaging in a public relations campaign the past couple months to prove his relevance at the national level. Porter posted numerous photos of himself at the US Capitol during the speakership deliberations, including a photo sitting alone in the Speaker’s conference room. Porter, who has endorsed RNC Chair Ronna Romney-McDaniel for re-election against conservative challenger Harmeet Dhillon, also has been making press for himself in his efforts to whip up the vote for Romney-McDaniel.
The US Capitol Complex adheres to very strict photography guidelines, limiting photographs from the general public to public areas of the Capitol and House and Senate office buildings. And it explains why Porter removed his photographs, sitting alone in the Speaker’s suite from his Facebook page.
Recent developments in the RNC Chair election also seem to indicate that DeMonte is complicit in Porter’s efforts to eliminate term limits. Sources confirm that DeMonte, who in December had endorsed Romney-McDaniel for re-election, has quietly signaled to Dhillon that she may vote for her in the election to be held at the RNC winter meeting on January 27, 2023, but that she can’t be public about her vote because she fears retribution in her own re-election – a re-election that will not happen without an amendment to the Bylaws.
The RNC Chair election is conducted by secret ballot, with Porter, DeMonte, and Tracy tendering votes on behalf of Illinois, and all three have endorsed Romney-McDaniel for re-election.
The RNC winter meeting will be held at the Waldorf-Astoria Monarch Beach in Dana Point, California.