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IL GOP Official Echoes the Democrats, Suggests Trump is Running for President to Avoid Jail, in an Interview During GOP Day at the State Fair



By Illinois Review

With less than a week before the first Republican primary debate in Milwaukee, DeSantis campaign supporters and a pro-DeSantis super PAC, are ramping up their attacks on Republican frontrunner President Donald Trump – in a kamikaze-style mission – and Illinois GOP officials, including Republican national committeeman Richard Porter – are taking the bait and feeding the Democratic narrative that Trump is running for president to avoid going to jail.

In an interview at the Illinois GOP Day at the state fair on Thursday in Springfield, Porter – a diehard DeSantis supporter and the chief architect of the failed Richard Irvin for governor campaign, spoke with the Chicago Tribune, where he sounded more like a Democrat than a Republican when discussing the candidacy of the 45th President of the United States.

“I think the most ardent Trumpers recognize that they might love him in their heart, but they know in their head he is not going to win independents in Georgia, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Michigan, New Hampshire, Arizona and Nevada. And that’s what you need to do to become president. And if you don’t become president of the United States, Trump goes to jail.”

Republican House Minority leader Tony McCombie, Dist. 89, didn’t echo Porter’s comments, but during an interview with the Tribune, she tried to avoid talking about the wildly popular former president – even asking, “I’m always so curious as why is it all about Donald Trump? Why don’t we concentrate about what’s going on in Illinois?”

McCombie oversees a deflated House Republican caucus where they are in the super minority – occupying just 40-seats in an 118-seat chamber – meaning Democrats hold a 78-seat majority over McCombie and House Republicans – making GOP voices virtually irrelevant in the state’s capitol.

Perhaps McCombie prefers to talk about her irrelevance in Springfield, instead, since it’s Illinois.

Or maybe McCombie prefers to talk about the National Education Association – an organization whose state association in Illinois endorsed Democrat Gov. JB Pritzker for governor and Democrat Kwame Raoul for attorney general; promoted mandates during the pandemic, and helped write the controversial sex education standards – and donated more than $1.5 million to Illinois House and Senate Republicans since the start of the pandemic through their political action committee, Illinois PAC for Education (IPACE).

The NEA also played a critical role in drafting the incredibly controversial National Sexuality Education Standards, allowing teachers to teach children about gender identity, sexual orientation, hormone blockers and gender expression.

The curriculum has angered parents in Illinois and across the country – and that anger is justified. More than 500 school districts in Illinois have exercised their ability to “opt-out,” declining to teach these outrageous sex education standards to children in their classrooms.

And who was the largest Republican recipient of this Democratic money? Illinois House Republican Minority leader Tony McCombie, who received $119,900 in donations since 2020.

In Illinois, it’s expected that one of the largest teachers unions would support Democrats. But to support Illinois Republican legislators – including McCombie, whose own constituents oppose every single policy of the Illinois Education Association and their PAC – and for the Republicans to happily accept their contributions – is shocking.

And who suffers? Our children.

And while IL GOP officials either disparage Trump, say that he’s going to prison if he doesn’t win the election, or completely avoid talking about him, altogether – Trump continues to go up in the polls – widening his lead over DeSantis by over 40 points.

This publication agrees with McCombie – let’s talk about Illinois – because she has a lot of explaining to do.

UPDATE (August 18, 2023 at 12:30 p.m.): In a dialogue with Illinois Review, Republican national committeeman Richard Porter provided the following comments to clarify his position:

“1) The Democrats have weaponized the justice system. First against Trump associates, and now against Trump himself. This is profoundly wrong and un-American.

2) All but one of the cases are in Democrat-controlled jurisdictions, where Democrats have been racking up convictions unjustly on Trump associates. One of the cases involves a friend of mine who has been sentenced to jail time if he does not prevail on his appeal. This case, like many others, is wrong on the facts and the law, but so far justice is not being done.

3) The only way to stop the injustice of a government weaponized against political opponents is with a strong Republican President, who understands the injustice and is tough and aggressive enough to root it out.

4) Theoretically, that could be Donald Trump himself. But, we know that to become President he must receive a plurality of the votes in enough states to receive a majority of the electoral votes.

5) The swing states have been and are likely to be GA, PA, WI, MI, AZ, and NV. Throw in NH and NC too, one Trump won and the other he lost before.

6) To win these states, a Republican candidate needs to win the independent votes. This is not 2016 — Trump is no longer new. Plus he behaved abysmally after he lost last time — and of course the purpose of these cases is to remind independent voters of Trump’s bad behavior, and to drive Democrat turnout. 

7) Why do you think Trump can do better in these states with those people — who are not pro-Trump to start with — than he did in 2020? Or better than candidates that embraced him did in 2018 or 2022? Again — maybe he beats all these charges before Democrat juries in Democrat jurisdictions, but so far it has not worked out well for anyone that these politicized prosecutors went after. 

I believe the base case for planning purposes should be that he loses on at least some counts. Better case is he gets the cases delayed until after the election — but if a Republican is not in office, the Democrats will pursue the cases to use Trump’s bad behavior as a screen for their on-going weaponization. Best case is Trump beats them all. Worst case is he’s hammered by a jury or juries. 

8) Is Trump therefore the best candidate for us to stop this injustice? I think the answer is no! DeSantis has proven he’s tough, he’s effective, he’s generally great on policy and he gets the problem. He doesn’t need to carry the baggage of the injustice — he’s free to point out how wrong the baggage is. 

Florida under DeSantis has become the showpiece of Republican governance. His leadership stands in stark contrast to the Democrats. He’s young, has a great family and he has virtues Republicans generally admire. I think he’s more likely than any other candidate to keep our energized Trump supporters on the team in 2024. 

I think it’s unwise for us as a party to ignore the practical implications these unjust cases have on the likely electoral outcome. I understand that Trump is popular in part because he’s become a martyr, done in by the swamp.  But our ideals need to live on and we can’t let these politicized prosecutions succeed. 

Instead we need to focus on the best strategy for winning, and that’s the only way we can right these systemic wrongs.

We will see how the candidates do in their first outing next week. There are several that are good, but I think DeSantis is likely to stand out. And he has a strong track record of experience; we have seen how he leads. Plus — almost all Republicans like him and respect him, even if many prefer another candidate at the moment.

We need to play to win the general election. Fundamental freedoms and norms essential to the functioning of our Republic will be destroyed by Democrats if we don’t win this election. 

To use a baseball analogy, when the starting pitcher is gassed, pull him and put in the young fresh arm. Trump may be the sentimental favorite to many, but someone else needs to step up and make this happen. I think that’s DeSantis — who I believe most would support if Trump were not in the race to start with. 


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