Ill. GOP Central Committee Meeting Report

by Warner Todd Huston | September 19, 2009 5:11 pm

Note: I realize that this is sort of narrow, but I attended the Illinois GOP Central Committee meeting today and I thought some of you might be somewhat interested to see what is going on in Obama’s home state on the Republican front. The excitement for anything NOT Democrat that was reported at this meeting is being echoed all across the country, though. So, this might be of broader interest, as well. Plus, there is a hint that the same old party stuffiness is not going to cut the mustard if the GOP is going to take advantage of this fall from grace that the Dems could suffer in 2010.

Ill. GOP Central Committee Meeting Report

Featuring: Laughs, Congrats and Some Disapproving Stares (See end of report for the controversy)

This morning I attended the first Illinois Republican Central Committee meeting chaired by new party chief Pat Brady held at the Double Tree Hotel, Oakbrook, Illinois (Cook County, West of Chicago). Over all, the public portion of the meeting was brisk and convivial as chaired by Brady. The new GOP head seemed comfortable in the role and appeared to be well liked and respected by the committee members in attendance. Whatever behind the scenes deals that may or may not have been struck at the State Fair such a short time ago when Andy McKenna abruptly stepped down with Brady hurriedly appointed to replace him, Brady seems to have settled into the position of GOP Chairman well.

Surveying the room it appeared that about 10 members of the committee was not in attendance — so near a third of the members did not answer the roll call — and I was one of the few folks that came out to witness the public portion of the meeting. As Dave Dierson[1] so amusingly put it, we sat in the “peanut gallery.” Dierson is best known for his daily Illinois news update email so many of us get each day in our email in-box.

The meeting began a tad later than the 11AM start date advertised and after Pat Brady called the meeting to order and introduced himself, and a few standard business items were taken care of (like approval of the minutes from the last meeting), Brady introduced the National GOP Committeewoman Demtra DeMonte to the room.

DeMonte briefly went over some of the things that the national party is planning for Illinois outreach. DeMonte informed everyone that the national party is having a function at the Renaissance Hotel in Oak Brook on October 17th (according to the hotel this has not been confirmed, but DeMonte seemed pretty sure of the date. There are no advertisements for this event yet, so be advised and check the dates once they get solidified).

DeMonte says she has a five issue activism platform she is trying to excite the voters with. Among the issues are energy, the economy, education, and government transparency and reform. She also mentioned that the Illinois delegation recently submitted to the national party and had approved three resolutions: 1). No more Obamacare socialism, 2). a stance against cap and trade, and 3). a resolution opposing Obama’s use of “czars” for every little thing to make an end run around Congress and the legislative process.

Chairman Brady then went on to briefly discuss the financial health of the state party saying that minor donors — that would be donations of a few hundred dollars and less — were way up so far this year. Brady reported that the national party received 8, 8, and 9 million dollars in donations in June, July and August respectively from small donors. The party has over $20 million in the bank thus far for the upcoming 2010 elections. He mentioned that major donors were lagging but have recently picked up with 50% of the party‚Äôs donation goals reached.

Brady was happy to report that the party raised over $10,000 in just two days as a result of its latest direct mail campaign but that he will endeavor to restructure the party donor programs using the same model as the national party donor programs to do so.

Chairman Brady also announced that he has been appointed the chairman of the new RNC ethics committee.

Brady then announced that in his new role as state GOP chairman, starting in October he will undertake a sort of listening tour of all the state county GOP chairmen to hear what they have to say about the party.

Next Chairman Brady mentioned that the state party website has had a few new features added. The site slogan is “We Are Illinois. As to the Internet, Brady expressed the need for a larger email database and said they will be a bit more direct and forceful in their on-line messaging.

Brady announced that new ILL. GOP offices will be opened in downtown Chicago sometime around Dec. 1.

Finally, Brady announced that the party has appointed a new executive director. Curt Conrad has been given the nod for the position. Curt is a long time Illinois Republican and has had numerous positions in the party structure at all levels. Congratulations to Curt.

At this point several of the County Chairmen gave short reports about their district but one common theme was that they are all seeing a heightened desire on the part of voters to get involved and that it is easier to get candidates to run for office. It seems that Democrat Party corruption and tea party movements have excited a lot of the populace toward the GOP. Let’s hope the state party does not squander this opportunity for fresh enthusiasm and new blood.

As to this enthusiasm, Brady mentioned that when he was attempting to get petition signatures for John McCain’s presidency last year he almost felt as if people were “throwing sticks at me.” But now he sees people happy to sign petitions.

Next a representative of the Illinois Federation of Young Republicans[2] announced that they are having a state convention on November 7[3] at the Boilingbrook Golf Club in Boilingbrook, Illinois (Will County).

Finally the business part of the meeting closed with an announcement of the rest of the Central Committee meetings for this year and next.

The public part of the meeting ended with an address by two of the GOP candidates for State Comptroller.

First up was Jim Dodge of Orland Park. Dodge urged those in attendance not to miss this opportunity to promote fresh faces in the party and hoped that everyone would support his bid for State Comptroller. You can check Mr. Dodge out at his campaign website[4].

Last up was the fellow that evoked those disapproving stares as mentioned above. William Kelly[5], also a candidate for State Comptroller, came on like gangbusters with a rough and tumble appeal at the tail of which he gave a warning to those assembled. If we place Judy Barr Topinka on the ticket, Kelly said, “she will drag down both those up and down the ticket.” He said that whenever he mentioned her name out on the hustings he was met with profanity laced complaints against the long-time Illinois GOP stalwart.

Not but a few of the committee members gave Mr. Kelly a disapproving stare at his bellicose anti-Topinka rhetoric.

Still, Kelly is 100% right to say that the voters of the state do not want to be confronted with names from our corruption riddled past. No one from the good-old-boy’s network will excite the voters to leave the Democrat Party and vote GOP. Whatever Topinka’s fine service — and she deserves accolades for her work — we must take this time to offer the voters something new, something that isn’t the same-old-same-old.

And thus ended the public segment of the Central Committee meeting.

This has been Warner Todd Huston, reporting from Oakbrook. (OK, I always wanted to say that)

(Cross posted at[6].)

  1. Dave Dierson:
  2. Illinois Federation of Young Republicans:
  3. state convention on November 7:
  5. William Kelly:

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