By Illinois Review
As the deciding votes that saved embattled Illinois Republican Party Chairman Don Tracy’s job on Saturday, IL GOP Grassroots Committee co-chairs Larry Smith and Rhonda Belford have come under fire from the grassroots – with many calling for their resignations as chairs, as Smith and Belford spent the weekend lashing out on social media and making phone calls to defend Tracy and their decision to keep him as party chairman.
“Don Tracy supports grassroots conservatives more than anyone,” was a message that Smith repeated, as he spoke with Illinois conservatives over the weekend who expressed their outrage that the co-chairs of the grassroots committee – Smith and Belford – would support a party chairman who views the conservative grassroots base of the party as “steerage,” or third-class citizens.
Ironically, Smith is also a founder of YANA (You Are Not Alone), a local grassroots organization. He’s also the chairman of the Lasalle County Republicans.
Belford, who serves as co-chair of the Grassroots Committee alongside Smith, also serves on Tracy’s newly-created 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.
Over the weekend, Belford went on social media to slam Illinois Review, posting on Facebook,
“If we continue to let the Democrats infiltrate, punk, play and rek havoc there will never be unified efforts – stop letting fake narratives and news, leaks, and lynching mentality be the guiding force. Get the facts, get educated, get united and let’s win some races.”
Publish factual stories that Tracy and his allies don’t like, and they accuse you of being a Democrat.
Publish stories about the IL GOP weaponizing their postage discount to target conservative grassroots candidates, and they accuse you of being a Democrat.
Criticize Tracy’s leadership, and they accuse you of being a Democrat.
Challenge IL GOP-backed candidates, and they accuse you of being a Democrat.
Point out that under the current anti-grassroots regime, Republicans can’t win races in Illinois, and they accuse you of being a Democrat.
And the response from grassroots over the weekend was swift and direct.
“Wonder how much it takes to betray your constituents.”
“What Bull. I spent 30 minutes on the phone with Larry Smith this evening while he was driving up from the meeting. I had NO idea he was one of the life saving votes for Tracy. I even invited him to speak at our next grassroots meeting on the 24th. There is no way that he deserves the opportunity to speak with us until Tracy is GONE. It’s either us or Tracy. All grassroots leaders please don’t give the IL GOP the time of day until they have another vote.”
And in another Facebook post, a grassroots leader wrote that on a phone call with Smith over the weekend, he said that he did not consult with any grassroots leaders prior to his vote on Saturday in support of Tracy because he “could not find us.”
An absurd statement coming from a man who co-chairs the Grassroots Committee, prompting Stacey to write,
“I know! Guess lying is easier when under fire.”
Earlier on Monday, Rob Cruz, a member of the Grassroots Committee, resigned – expressing his disappointment that the co-chairs of the committee “were key figures in retaining” Don Tracy as party chairman.
It’s hard to serve the grassroots – as Smith and Belfored have been tasked to do, when their real mission is to serve Tracy, instead.
And their rhetoric and votes prove it.
One of the Facebook posts was written by Jacqueline Garretson Abene, whom I know through our work at the We the People of McHenry County grassroots group.
Later in the conversation, Jacqueline shares how vital it will be for the grassroots to recruit Republican precinct committeepersons to run in every precinct, all 200+ precincts of McHenry County, which is the last red collar county in Chicagoland.
With Illinois going Democrat in POTUS next year no matter whom the nominees are, no U.S. Senate race, and the congressional districts of McHenry County (9th, 10th, 11th, 16th) all solid for the party holding them, local county races and maybe an Illinois House or Senate race will be where the grassroots will have the most influence.
Provided there are enough grassroots activists who will put their names on the ballot.
We’ll see what happens. Now is the time to be recruiting candidates for every spot on the ballot next year, including committeepersons.
Another publication disagrees with Illinois Review assessment of what happened in executive session on Saturday.
Word is, only Jason Plummer, Aaron Del Mar and Jeanne Ives were the only state central committeepersons who voted “No Confidence” against Chairman Don Tracy.
If that’s true, given their respective weighted votes, SCC members Larry Smith and Rhonda Belford could not have been the decisive votes that could have removed Don Tracy.
Is this a case where 20 different canaries singing in a chorus to two different publications aren’t in unison?
Unfortunately, the other publication is subscriber-only, and I cannot cite its name openly.
We stand on our reporting. Six members of the SCC voted “No Confidence,” and that is confirmed by multiple sources and photographic evidence.
Great job Illinois review.
The other publication has retracted its article of yesterday and now says six as well, and they named, in addition to Aaron Del Mar (5th Congressional District), Jason Plummer (15th District) and Jeanne Ives (3rd District):
Dean White (8th District)
Joan LaSonde (9th District)
Chad Weaver (17th District)
So at least six of the 17 voted “No Confidence”.
We’ll see what happens at the August(?) meeting.