Home Faith & Family Don Tracy Secretly Creates IL GOP Endorsement Committee in Attempt to Block...

Don Tracy Secretly Creates IL GOP Endorsement Committee in Attempt to Block Grassroots from Winning Future Primary Elections, Catching GOP Leaders by Surprise

Former State Rep. Tom Demmer, left; IL GOP chairman Don Tracy; Lynn O'Brien, a Tracy and Irvin ally and supporter; and former gubernatorial candidate and Aurora Mayor Richard Irvin, right, at the GOP luncheon on Feb. 14, 2023 in downtown Chicago.

By Illinois Review

Illinois Republican Party Chairman Don Tracy caught some of his fellow state central committee (SSC) members off guard this week when several of them received an email naming them to the new Endorsement Policy Committee, which Tracy will chair – paving the way for the chairman and the state party to officially endorse their preferred candidates in primary elections, in an apparent dig at the grassroots-base of the party.

In January, Tracy floated this idea during an interview with Bishop on Air, and blamed the top of the ticket for the midterm election losses this past November – saying that the IL GOP needs to re-evaluate their primary election neutrality policy moving forward.

“And a lot of these great candidates we had this past time put their heart and soul and their family treasure into these races only to be impacted by the top of the ticket, something they have no control over…So I think we almost have a fiduciary duty to look at our primary and determine whether neutrality is the best policy.”

IL GOP chair Don Tracy joins Bishop on Air to discuss why the IL GOP needs to re-evaluate their neutrality policy in primary elections.

And while Tracy may think it’s good policy for the state party to meddle in primary races, multiple sources have confirmed to Illinois Review that not everyone on this new committee he’s chairing supports the idea.

Illinois Review has obtained an email sent by the IL GOP that included the new Endorsement Policy Committee chaired by chair Don Tracy, in a move that caught the committee members by surprise.

And they have good reason to oppose it – after all, during the last primary election, IL GOP-favored candidate for governor Richard Irvin, the mayor of Aurora, lost by a shocking 43 points, despite $50 million coming in from billionaire Ken Griffin to prop up the mayor’s failed gubernatorial campaign.

Irvin also received the support and endorsements from many senior IL GOP officials, including nearly half of the then-SSC – whose members serve as the governing board of the IL GOP.

But none of that helped, or moved him any closer to a victory.

The real winners in the Irvin campaign? The paid political consultants and vendors.

But make no mistake – Tracy despises the grassroots – and he views the conservative base of the party as “steerage” or third-class citizens, to borrow an analogy from the blockbuster hit movie, the Titanic.

And it’s why he’s created this new committee to officially prop up the candidates that he wants to support and who oppose grassroot candidates.

In Tracy’s mind – if you’re a major donor to IL GOP efforts, then you deserve a seat next to him in his first-class cabin with views of the ocean – dining on foie gras, raw oysters, waldorf pudding and sipping on fine wine.

But if you’re a member of the grassroots – you can take your seat in the “steerage” below deck with views of the engine and boiler rooms, dining on vegetable stew and stale biscuits.

But while the grassroots cannot compete with Tracy and top IL GOP donors dollar for dollar, they vastly outnumber the establishment, and they are the hardest workers in politics. They’ll make thousands of phone calls, drop off signs and knock on doors – rain or shine – in the summertime and wintertime.

They cannot be stopped.

All the political connections and money in the world couldn’t save Richard Irvin’s campaign – and much to the frustration of Tracy, the grassroots proved to be unbeatable during the primary election cycle.

Just imagine for a moment, how negative races will become if Tracy and the state party are allowed to intervene and pick sides during primaries.

This last primary election cycle, we saw the state party endorse vicious mailers that unfairly attacked grassroots candidates – even mailing pieces with photoshopped pictures of grassroot candidates alongside Gov. JB Pritzker to deliberately deceive Republican primary voters into thinking that these “so-called” Republicans are personal friends with the Democratic governor.

“He’s not a Republican. He’s not one of us,” was a popular tagline in hit pieces that Tracy’s allies used to target grassroots candidates.

A copy of a mailer attacking Republican conservative grassroots candidate Travis Weaver paid for by the Illinois Republican Party during the 2022 Illinois Primary, using a fake photo with Democrat Gov. JB Pritzker during the 2022 Illinois Primary.

In another mailer, Tracy and the state party violated the Republican Party of Illinois Platform by paying for, and mailing out a pro-choice mailer in support of their preferred candidate for DuPage County board chair.

A copy of a pro-choice mailer mailed by the Illinois Republican Party in support of Republican DupPage County Chair candidate Greg Hart during the 2022 Illinois Midterm Election.

Without a platform – there isn’t a party.

And where was Tracy? He was silent.

During the December SSC meeting, the grassroots were only given 90-seconds to speak during public comments – and many drove hours just for their voices to be heard. But if you were a friend and ally of Tracy, you could speak beyond the allotted time.

And the SSC meeting this Saturday is no different – and Tracy continues to try and silence the voices of the grassroots during the public comment section of the meeting.

Illinois Review has obtained a copy of the agenda for Saturday’s SSC meeting where Tracy will formally present the new Endorsement Policy Committee, which he chairs.

In an email obtained by Illinois Review, Tracy’s executive director and top aide sent out an email to SSC members with the following message, copying Tracy:

“For public comments, it will be invitation only at the direction of SCC members. SCC members are allowed to invite one speaker. Public commentators must register with me by 6PM the day before the meeting – Friday, May 12, 2023.”

Illinois Review has obtained an email sent by the executive director of the IL GOP that limits public comment from the grassroots and others during the upcoming SCC meeting.

Since his election as chair of the IL GOP in 2021, Tracy has overseen humiliating defeats that prompted both Republican House and Senate leaders to resign after November’s election losses.

Democrats control every statewide office, and they grew their supermajority control in both the Illinois House and Senate chambers.

And in April, the Democrats’ winning streak continued – as they won an overwhelming majority of local races and school board elections as their domination of the state continues year after year, election after election – leaving Republicans voiceless and irrelevant on local and state matters.

Multiple Republican leaders have shared with Illinois Review privately that Tracy’s weak leadership and the continuation of GOP losses have had a serious impact on their ability to raise money for the state party.

And while Tracy brags about the measly $2.2 million they raised over the last two years, not one penny was spent in support of conservative grassroot candidates.

During that same time frame, the Indiana GOP raised $10 million – proving that competent leadership and a solid plan to incorporate the grassroots is critical to raising money and winning elections.

The last time the IL GOP tried to tell us which candidate to support during the primary, that campaign went down in flames.

Perhaps Tracy will never learn this lesson – and it’s one of many reasons why it’s time for him to go.

Tracy can learn from the grassroots. Third class citizens they are not – the future of the party, they are.


  1. Respectfully, Illinois Review instead of completely trashing the idea, there should be seen some very real opportunities to influence the process if the Republican State Central Committee (SCC) implements an endorsement policy for statewide candidates, most notably for governor and U.S. Senate.

    In other words, take this apparent lemon and make some lemonade!

    For example, could part of the policy be any candidate to be endorsed by the SCC for statewide office include a rule that endorsed Republican organization candidates MUST meet the same endorsement eligibility requirement to be a member of the SCC?

    I’m of course referring to the Illinois Republican Party By-laws which mandates any SCC member, prior to being presented to precinct committeepersons at county conventions on the SCC ballot, is required to have voted by casting a Republican ballot in the most recent 3 General Primary Elections? The same qualification would be clear the 3-straight primary rule must be in the same Illinois local election authority jurisdictions, with allowance/exception only for verified military service or verified Republican primary voting history in statewide primary elections from another state. Local Republican primaries, like the Village of Oswego in 2023, and the numerous Republican primaries or caucuses in the 2021 township elections, do not count in the 3 most recent primary rule. Special Republican primary elections do not count, either.

    That rule above would eliminate Richard Irvin from being considered for endorsement last year, given he hadn’t cast a Republican ballot in 2016, 2018 and 2020. Irvin wouldn’t be eligible for a Republican pre-primary endorsement from the SCC until the 2028 election cycle, and that assumes Irvin casts a Republican ballot in 2024 and 2026 primaries.

    But think of the consequence if a similar rule was in place for local county central committees (or their executive committee doing endorsements).

    Taking Irvin out of the mix, let’s use what happened in the Illinois 11th Congressional District (IL-11) in 2022. Grassroots conservative groups backed then-North Aurora Village Trustee Mark Carroll for the opportunity to challenge Congressman Bill Foster in the 6-person field in 2022.

    Carroll was backed by Illinois Family Action, as well as the Lake County Republican’s Executive Committee through its then-Chairman Mark Shaw, who still serves on the SCC. Carroll was backed by both establishment, like SCC Member Laura Pollastrini (who was IL-14 SCC member at the time) and the Naperville Township Republicans and Batavia Township Republicans.

    Problem, Carroll did not vote in the 2018 and 2020 Republican primaries for whatever reasons.

    IL-11 Republican candidate Jerry Evans earned his share of endorsements from establishment Republicans including then-SCC Member Roger Claar and the DuPage Township (Will Co.) Republicans. Evans missed voting in the 2018 Republican primary.

    Both Carroll and Evans could run as Republicans under Illinois’ open primary election laws, but just like SCC members, should all Republican candidates, to be considered for an endorsement of any Republican organization under the umbrella of the Illinois Republican SCC, show their receipts, in this case, a certified copy of their voting history from the local election authority where they live?

    The winner of the IL-11 Republican primary last year, Catalina Lauf, wouldn’t have qualified either, because she only started voting Republican from her parents’ home where she’s registered to vote in 2020.

    Other grassroots conservatives would be ineligible, too. One who spoke at the December SCC meeting was Jack Lombardi, who ran unsuccessfully for the 14th Congressional District last year, finishing 4th out of 5 primary candidates. Lombardi has announced he’s running again in the 14th Congressional District (though he physically lives in the 1st Congressional District).

    Lombardi moved into his Will County home in 2018, after the Republican primary, and it’s unknown if he cast a Republican ballot in 2020. Assuming he did, Lombardi would be ineligible for a Republican endorsement due to not voting in 3 straight Republican primary elections. Lombardi is likely not alone among grassroots conservatives.

    Then there are the grassroots conservatives who’ve participated in the various “operation chaos” projects over the year who cast Democrat primary ballots in certain presidential election years, including 2016, 2020 and 2022.

    Just one way to make this endorsement policy rule work, provided it’s applied consistently.

  2. I love it when we attack each other instead of Democrats. We will never win until we stand together. Focusing on one candidate so we can share our meager resources is the only chance we have to win seats in Illinois. But instead, lets waste time and money beating each other up. The Democrats must laugh themselves to sleep every night at us.

    • You know who laughs himself to sleep every night? Don Tracy. That democrat infiltrated our Party and is doing everything in his power to destroy it from within. The DPI doesn’t hold a candle to the level of damage Don Tracy already has done by abusing the postage discount. Now with his endorsement committee, he will legitimize this nefarious behavior to make sure no good Republican ever gets elected in Illinois. Pritzker will reward his good servant with 30 pieces of silver – big contracts for Dot Foods at the 2024 DNC convention.

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