CHICAGO - Vince Kolber is the founder and CEO of 31 year old RESIDCO, a company built around America's Midwest transportation hub based in Chicago. At 62, most CEOs are looking for ways to slow down and enjoy the fruits of their labors. Kolber is interested instead in taking a leadership role in the Illinois Republican Party.
Wednesday afternoon at 5:00 PM, the Illinois Republican Party will cut off receiving applications for the State Central Committee to consider for Republican National Committeeman. Kolber's name will be on the list of those interested in succeeding the late Rich Williamson, who served from 2010 until his death last month.
"I'm a full-spectrum conservative," Kolber told Illinois Review Tuesday evening when asked how he'd describe his Republican philosophical leanings.
He's chaired the Chicago Committee for Heritage Foundation for several years, and his association with the D.C.-based organization has opened the way for him to connect to both conservatives and Republicans at the national level. He is confident his associations could help bring more funds back to the Illinois Republican Party, something he sees as the base of a national committeeman's duties.
It is urgent that the two-party system revive for future generations' sakes, he said.
"We are witnessing horrific generational theft," Kolber said. "I tell young people all the time to study hard, and be very successful because they'll be paying for social programs for years to come. The reality is shocking to them."
Vince Kolber isn't a name familiar to most rank and file Illinois Republicans, but he's been actively involved in financing Republicans at the state and national levels since the late 1990s. Illinois State Board of Elections' records show that he's written checks to Republican conservatives such as Adam Andrzejewski, State Rep. David McSweeney, State Senator Jim Oberweis and former Illinois Senate candidates Cedra Crenshaw and Dr. Arie Friedman. Most recently, Kolber wrote a $10,000 check to support the Committee for Legislative Reform and Term Limits.
At the congressional level over the years, Kolber has supported Illinois Republicans Bobby Schilling, Jason Plummer, Peter Roskam, Aaron Schock, Rodney Davis, and John Shimkus. At the presidential level he supported Tim Pawlenty before contributing to Mitt Romney's campaign.
Kolber told Illinois Review he worked with RNC Committeewoman Demetra DeMonte to raise $1.3 million for the Republican National Committee's efforts, including nearly $400,000 in 2013, when few were focused on raising campaign funds. He's personally acquainted with RNC Chairman Reince Preibus and believes that longtime relationship will expedite working with the RNC to get funding into Illinois.
IL GOP Chairman Jack Dorgan has asked Kolber to chair the state party's finance committee, and while Kolber is anxious to raise funds for the state party, he sees an opportunity to work closely within the Republican National Committee as a way to get funds back into the state, while raising funds in Illinois.
"I said I would work with Chairman Dorgan event by event," Kolber said. "I do think my serving as RNC Committeeman would get the results the Chairman is looking for."
Kolber acknowledged the complaint of many Republicans who say national candidates come into Chicago to tap the well-heeled and leave the state itself begging for resources.
"It's time that Illinois benefit from the money raised here more than it is now," he said. "We need to use that money to build the party and make the Illinois houses more competitive with the Democrats. That needs to happen now, before the 2016 election."
Illinois' unemployment numbers will only worsen unless the state's business climate changes, Kolber said.
"Illinois is an unfriendly place to grow a business, or continue one that's already established. Pension obligations are an obstacle, and although they've been addressed, there's much more to do to attract businesses that bring in jobs for the state's unemployed," he said.
Kolber will need to convince the 18 members of the party's State Central Committee of his qualifications, his plans and his vision as Republican National Committeeman. The group will meet January 18th to consider all those persons who've applied for the position.
After 5:00 PM Wednesday, the IL GOP will make the list of applicants public.