I have flipped: Illinois Republican Voters Must Elect Their Central Committee

Illinois is in tough shape, even on the brink of bankruptcy. It will continue to be in tough shape as long as it’s run by Democrats, whose chief goal is not the betterment of the state as a whole but the furtherance of their own political power through the phony promises of redistribution of wealth.

Illinois will continue to be run by Democrats as long as the mentality of the Republican State Central Committee remains as it is: cede Chicago, work the phones, visit the country clubs. They are content to be in charge of a second place, ineffectual party. I am not content to belong to a second place party.

They refuse to encourage more active, idealistic Republicans to become Precinct Committeemen.

They refuse to train and encourage the Precinct Committeemen to walk their precincts.

They refuse to encourage activist training, calling it “a waste”.

They want to go along to get along.

Rather than pressing our advantage with the conservative wave sweeping the nation, too many cower in fear.

In the past, I have always opposed efforts to elect our State Central Committee members by popular vote, preferring those votes take place among Precinct Committeemen — people whom I was sure were Republicans.

But the evidence is too clear: the Illinois Republican Party is run as a self-perpetuating club for the members of the Central Committee. That must change.

It is also not entirely clear to me that all Precinct Committeemen and Ward Committeemen are fully loyal to the Party.

I now support the direct election of the State Central Committee by the Republican voters in each Congressional District.

Loren E. Heal
Precinct Committeeman, Neoga-1, Cumberland County, IL
2012 Republican National Convention Delegate, IL-15

To My Fellow Platform and Resolutions Committee Members:

I would like to ask for your support of the attached Resolution. Like many of you, I have been involved in the Republican Party for many years (24 years in my case), and during that time I have watched Illinois go from Red to Blue.

I took on the established Party years ago here in McLean County, and ran for GOP County Chairman in the first contested race in 28 years. The established players were furious and they tried to tell me these party offices were always “worked out” in private meetings. I challenged the status-quo, and got right to work drafting and adopting a Constitution and By-Laws. With the help of four attorneys working on the language, we produced and passed organizational documents that other county parties utilize today as a template for their own By-Laws.

Today McLean is one of the few counties where most (but not all) of our Precinct Committeeman positions are filled. One year we had 27 contested races for Precinct Committeeman. We hold an Executive Committee meeting each month, as well as a monthly Breakfast or Luncheon – something I started 20 years ago. Before that time, only the Chairman and a few elected folks got together for coffee. Today we typically have 60 to 100 people turn out for our monthly events.

We see healthy energy every election cycle with contested primaries for countywide offices a common occurrence, and sometimes for the State Representative and State Senate races too. Our Party holds a Super Majority on our McLean County Board, and all of our countywide offices are currently held by Republicans.

I share all of this because we have opened up the County Party to competition – and it has been a good thing for our Party and the voters. And I say that as someone who has been challenged twice for my own Precinct Committeeman position over the years. I’m grateful to my fellow Republican voters who allowed me to prevail both times, by margins of 70/30 and 60/40.  Another time I was not as fortunate when I lost my bid for reelection as County Chairman. However, I stayed on to serve as the best lieutenant I could be to the new Chairman. Later I ran again for County Chairman and won that time in an uncontested race.

We make our Party stronger by opening up the process and encouraging more participation. We need real and open elections to once again allow all Republican voters to choose who they want to lead their State Central Committee. The top officials of our State Party should be accountable to the Republicans they serve. Maybe some of the incumbents don’t want to work that hard, and so would prefer retaining the current system. Well I say the persons entrusted with the privilege of leading our Grand Old Party at the state level should have to go out and constantly earn the support of their fellow Republicans. I believe that by once again directly electing our top officials, we will see a revival of excitement within our Party statewide.

We have talked about this reform for years. We’ve had our current system for 24 years and it’s just not working. The State Central Committee is unaccountable to Republican voters and the result has predictably been one disappointment after another.

The time for real change is now. I believe it takes real leadership to make positive change within our Party. Our Platform and Resolutions Committee can provide that leadership. Standing together we can make history this weekend and provide a lasting legacy, a better Illinois Republican Party for our children and grandchildren.

You and I have been fighting to build a better Party and a better Illinois. Will you also join me in helping to lead the charge for positive change? Republican voters and volunteers are counting on us. Let’s be leaders on reform by taking this Resolution to the floor of the Convention and working for its passage.

Tuesday night we witnessed the people of Wisconsin standing up and demonstrating how the power of the vote can be utilized for tremendous good. Can we Republicans of Illinois not rise to the same challenge?

Four years ago I was asked not to support restoring direct elections. I told the County Chairman’s Committee at the time that we needed real change, but I went along with delaying the reform because I listened to the promises that things would get better. Four years later, things are not better.

To paraphrase the great Ronald Reagan, you and I have a rendezvous with destiny. Will you join me in giving every Republican voter back their vote and their voice in the Illinois Republican Party?

My regards,

John W. Parrott, Jr.

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