I write in protest over the current state of the Cook County Republican Party, requesting change that can only come through you. In short, the current leadership, including Chairman Del Mar, must be replaced in the coming County Convention. Leaders who intend to do what is necessary for Republican victory are required, not ones concerned with buttressing their own political position.
The Cook County GOP is crucial. Forty percent of the Illinois state vote is cast in Cook County. The impact of the Cook GOP on state elections, and the state legislature is therefore obvious. But there are even larger concerns. Without greater strength in the upper Midwest, the GOP will continue to struggle in Presidential elections. Given the corporate and financial power concentrated in Chicago, however, the GOP will not regain the upper Midwest without breaking the Democratic lock on Illinois. But victory in Illinois will not occur without greater strength in Cook County. It is that simple.
But the Cook suburbs have become an increasing cause for alarm. In 2007, Tony Peraica exceeded his vote goals in Chicago in his run for Cook County Board President. He lost because he could not meet his goals in the Cook suburbs. In 2010, Bill Brady bet his election that he could ignore the Cook suburbs, yet make up the votes downstate. He lost that bet. With 20 percent of the overall state vote being cast in suburban Cook County, a change of just a few percentage points means everything. But winning the needed Cook suburban vote in coming elections will require strong work, which starts with strong leadership.
I know from experience that things can be better. In the years 2004-2007, I originated the modern office of the General Counsel for the Cook County GOP under Chairman Gary Skoien, in order to investigate and pursue claims of corruption and abuse of power in the Democrat controlled local governments. In that period the Cook GOP maintained a functioning office with full time staff, filed suit against Machine corruption, put together a campaign for a candidate for Cook County President that was the most serious Republican effort at county leadership seen in decades, regained media involvement, filled candidate slots, represented Republican candidates for free against machine ballot challenges, rewrote the Bylaws, recruited thousands of new election judges through a mailing campaign, and conducted a series of effective publicity measures to expose the corruption and waste of the Machine. As a direct result, Cook GOP meetings were hugely relevant, looked forward to, and fully attended, as the leadership was highly respected.
But such good works are not occurring in the current Cook GOP. Consider the following:
1. There are no Countywide candidates for office in 2014. The current leadership had no role in recruiting the countywide candidates in 2012, either. Those persons came out of Chicago, not the suburbs, and were recruited by Republicans in Chicago, not the Cook GOP leadership.
2. Judicial Retention Endorsement. In return for a $7,500 contribution to the Cook County GOP, Mr. Del Mar recorded a robocall endorsing all judges running for retention in Cook County in 2012. The fact that the large majority of judges were Democrats, and many were liberal Democrats with corresponding views on judicial restraint and the Constitution, apparently was of no concern to Mr. Del Mar.
3. “Report Cards.” This administration offered that if a Committeeman joined their program to receive “report cards” on various criteria selected by the Chairman and judged by his minions, the Committeeman would receive financial support from the Cook GOP. Many Committeemen signed up, and have been judged, but the Cook GOP is not paying the money.
4. Gubernatorial Endorsement. The drive to have an endorsement session appears to have begun not long after Mr. Del Mar’s personal political committee received a $2,500 donation from Bruce Rauner in August 2013. As all know, the process was not one of presentation by candidates and discussion among Committeeman, but instead only an online effort to secure the endorsement for Bruce Rauner without a meeting. The vote was counted and certified by a Committeeman whose township organization had received a $1000 contribution from Mr. Rauner. It was a one-sided endorsement process for a single candidate that would have made the Chicago Machine proud. It was not the way the Cook GOP should have handled the matter.
5. Fundraising. The major donor relied upon almost exclusively to fund the party during Mr. Del Mar’s term has not been giving of late, with little wonder. Since July 1, 2013, the Cook GOP has raised less than $2500.
6. General Counsel. Mr. Del Mar has allowed his General Counsel to make claim against, and file suit against the Republican Illinois State Treasurer.
7. Removal of Vice Chairman. Mr. Del Mar fired a Vice Chairman of the Cook GOP, Eloise Gerson, simply because she requested that an ally of Del Mar withdraw from a race for Cook County Judge on the basis of provable misconduct. The request was not public, and sent only to the Candidate and the Township Committeemen of the Sub-circuit. Yet just 34 minutes after the request was sent by email, the Vice Chairman received an email from Mr. Del Mar removing her from office. When a 2012 countywide candidate and active Republican volunteer wrote to protest the act, Mr. Del Mar responded: “The fact is I don't care what you think about me. I don't think about you at all.” Such is leadership in this party.
It doesn’t have to be this way. With better leadership, the Cook GOP can again become effective. But it takes Committeemen who will worry about the Party, not just their own self- interest It will take Committeemen who will voice their opinion, rather than hide in the shadows hoping all will like them. It will take Committeemen who will stand up for what they see as right, with the courage to demand change. I beg you to do so and install new leadership this Spring, for the sake of Cook County, the people of Illinois and the whole country.
Thank you for your time and consideration.
Stephen F. Boulton