Direct Elections – Awaken the Illinois GOP

Party of Lincoln needs jolt of competitive energy

TAKE ACTION: Support SB600 in the Illinois State Senate by calling the Senators listed in this Illinois Family Institute Alert; the Capital Switchboard number in Springfield is 217-782-2000). This legislation could be effectively killed in committee soon so please call today.

Dear Readers,

I endorse this article by my friends at Champion News (based in Carpentersville, Illinois) — advocating a bill, SB600 (sponsored by Sen. Chris Lauzen (R-Aurora), which would allow the direct election of the Republican State Central Committee in Illinois — with the following proviso: though I am active in Republican Party politics in Illinois, Americans For Truth about Homosexuality (AFTAH) is a non-partisan organization that promotes pro-family values in all parties and all areas of society. We are not a GOP organization; in fact, some Republicans do not like AFTAH when we criticize pro-homosexual pandering within the Republican Party (see our campaign urging RNC Chief Michael Steele not to embrace the homosexual “Log Cabin Republican” agenda). They especially don’t like us when we assert that all de facto homosexual activist Republicans (and Democrats) working behind the scenes to promote the GLBT agenda should be open with the voters about their sexual special interest (instead of hiding behind the homosexual closet).

The reality here in the Land that Gave America Obama (sigh) is this: the Illinois Republican Party leadership has failed to stand boldly for conservative, pro-family ideals, and the party desperately needs some competitive energy. The ILGOP is hurt by its own “moderates” (read: social liberals) who continually talk down pro-family policies and proclaim their disdain for the ILGOP becoming “too conservative” (even as they lose one election after another). We hope that SB600 will become a vehicle for MORE pro-family advocacy in the party — and that it will help bring an infusion of new blood and Reaganesque thinking to the Party of Lincoln. — Peter LaBarbera, www.aftah.org

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Direct Elections: Awaken the IL GOP

First published in Champion News, March 3

By John Biver

My Champion News colleague Doug Ibendahl has been advocating for a return to Direct Elections for several years now, and along the way has thoroughly made the case in articles such as this one from last June: “Reawaken our Illinois Republican Party – Vote for a Return to Direct Elections.” Doug opened the article by asking rank and file Republicans to stand-up for the restoring of “a basic legal right that was taken away two-decades ago, with devastating consequences.” Devastating indeed. Here are excerpts from Doug’s article:

All Republicans in Illinois used to have a say in electing the top leadership of our Illinois Republican Party (the “State Party”). Our State Party is run by a 19-member State Central Committee, one member from each of our state’s U.S. Congressional Districts.

Our State Central Committee is the political equivalent of a board of directors – it’s charged with setting policy, overseeing operations, and looking out for the best interests of all Republicans.

In the late 1980’s the good-old-boys decided they wanted to consolidate power in Illinois. So they changed the system of selecting that board of directors – without asking Republican voters by the way. The Illinois Democrats kept direct elections for their Central Committee, but we adopted a much more closed, easily rigged system, with some really bad incentives.

Myth: “Returning to direct elections will mean only the wealthy will get on the State Central Committee.”

TRUTH:  The wealthier candidate is often the loser in an election, especially in Illinois. Our recent GOP primaries are full of examples.

Doug’s following point is huge – as it gets right to correcting the perverse incentives of the current system (emphasis added in bold and reformatted into bullet points).

We’re talking about an unpaid party post in the case of the State Central Committee. Making the members accountable to Republicans again will do much to change the job from being a mostly do-nothing ceremonial post, into one where the members have an incentive to become doers, working to build our Party.

Let’s create some common sense performance expectations for this State Central Committee for a change. Let’s measure that performance and share it with Republican voters in advance of election.

  • For example, how many get-out-the-vote efforts did the person lead?
  • How many new Republicans were registered to vote?
  • What were the recruitment efforts for candidates, volunteers, election judges, poll watchers, etc.?
  • And most importantly, how did the Republican vote fare in their districts?

Let’s see who runs for a volunteer service position that actually has some real work involved. And if someone wants to spend a significant sum of his or her own money to attain a volunteer job where they have to work hard on behalf of Republicans – is that a bad thing? Might that be exactly the kind of committed leader we need to reawaken this Illinois GOP?

A campaign for the State Central Committee means more energy and more people engaging and getting Republicans to the polls. Again, how can that be a bad thing?

Myth: “With direct elections, only public officials or those with high name I.D. would get elected.”

TRUTH: Our State Central Committee has lots of public officials NOW – plus there are a few more who are essentially the stand-in for a public official in the district.  If our party really wants to keep public officials off the State Central Committee, there is a simple solution. That State Central Committee could amend its By-Laws to include the prohibition.

If this public official point were truly a legitimate concern, our State Party could call a meeting and make the change today — if it wanted to. But passage would mean several of the current incumbents who are already public officials would have to give up a post. . .

Myth: “Direct elections will help Chicago Democrats get on our State Central Committee.”

TRUTH: We’ve got Chicago Democrats for all intents and purposes on there NOW. Think Skip Saviano for example. Enough said.

The truth is it’s our current system that’s encouraged Democrats to seek our party titles. This is evident in Chicago especially. Under our current system we’ve had lifelong Democrats in Chicago Ward Committeemen posts. Our current system encourages the State Central Committeemen not to say a peep or lift a finger, as long as they get that person’s vote to help stay on the State Central Committee.

Myth: “All of the County Chairmen are against returning to direct elections.”

TRUTH: Lots of County Chairmen support the reform. (Click HERE for a partial list of those supporting direct elections, which now includes former U.S. Senator Peter Fitzgerald.)  More importantly, no other proposal impacting our Illinois GOP has generated as much energy and support from the rank-and-file in recent years as this direct elections reform.

Myth: “Direct elections would take power away from the precinct committeemen.”

TRUTH: Direct elections make the precinct committeemen MORE important. A State Central Committee member who wants to stay in office is going to have to build a much closer working relationship with his or her precinct committeemen – and the County Chairmen. And the relationship is going have to revolve around getting-out-the-vote, and less on just currying personal friendship.

Direct election of the State Central Committee is crucial to better align the interests of all party officials, at all levels, with the interests of Republicans. This is a big reason why every corporation gives every shareholder a direct vote for the board of directors for example.

More importantly, our current system has in fact been devastating to the precinct committeeman ranks. Note how our State Party consistently refuses every two years to help recruit precinct committeemen to fill the huge number of vacant slots around the state. This is just one of the bad disincentives built into our current system. It’s pretty obvious there’s a major concern among a few insiders about expanding the pool of voters, i.e., precinct committeemen.

Myth: “Going back to direct elections constitutes a ‘risky’ change.”

TRUTH: It’s our current system which is odd and extreme. Changing back to direct elections means going back to the sensible system, and the one that’s more like how every well run corporation is structured. Don’t forget, we were consistently a Red State when we had direct elections. Since abandoning direct elections, the GOP Presidential nominee has lost Illinois every time, usually by a lot.

To our knowledge, no other state party in America has a system as closed as the one we’ve tried.  It’s high time we ended the radical experiment that’s been an obvious failure.

Again, click HERE to read Doug’s entire article. Also recommended are these:

John Biver is the Editor of Champion News.

This article was posted on Wednesday, March 4th, 2009 at 2:54 pm and is filed under Illinois, Log Cabin Republicans, News, Republican Party. You can follow any updates to this article through the RSS 2.0 feed.

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