PEORIA - The 17th CD State Central Committeeman race is coming down to a choice between re-electing Jan Weber - who ran in 2016 as a delegate for presidential candidate John Kasich - and Patrick Harlan - who won the highest number of primary votes in the 17th CD as a delegate for presidential candidate Ted Cruz.
Wednesday, Illinois GOP committeemen will decide at county conventions throughout the state who they want to represent their congressional districts on the IL GOP State Central Committee. The 17th CD race is heating up as the day draws near, as incumbent Jan Weber argued her case in a letter sent to voting committeemen.
Weber says despite her overwhelming loss as a Kasich delegate that she has "as record of successfully representing the Republican electorate of our region as our IL-17th Congressional District State Central Committeeman."
She goes on to blast opponent Patrick Harlan as an "extremist agitator" working for "a syndicate of Chicago political consultants" - assuming she means Dan Proft's Liberty PAC. She continues with an emotional appeal to the disgusted IL GOP base that she evidently believes will win support district-wide: "We can't allow his personal agenda to distract from what really matters - electing a state central committeeman who will unite and strengthen the IL GOP before the general election."
What's the personal agenda Weber accuses Harlan of using to distract from IL GOP unification, Illinois Review asked Harlan.
"I am not sure," Harlan said. "I am unapologetic about being a conservative. Assuming that must be what this letter refers to..."
According to Illinois State Board of Elections vote tallies from the presidential primary delegate race in 2016, Harlan was overwhelmingly the district's favorite with nearly 27,000 votes. Weber, on the other hand, won a little over 11,000 votes as a Kasich delegate.
That same year, Harlan did try but failed to knock off incumbent 17th CD Democrat Congresswoman Cheri Bustos - a favorite of Rahm Emanuel.
The SSC vote this Wednesday will determine the direction of the IL GOP. Conservatives in the 17th are supporting Patrick Harlan. Rauner's devotees are pushing for Weber.
Will the SSC's direction head more Left under Rauner's leadership, or will it shift to the Right as the conservative base indicated it desired with such overwhelming support for a little-known, under-funded state rep that nearly ousted the incumbent governor?
Weber's letter echoes the arguments Governor Rauner's campaign has been making since he won the gubernatorial primary by less than 3 points last month: "The primary is over and we need to unite around what we agree on instead of focusing on what divides us. I have kept my promise to work toward uniting and strengthening the party and that's why I'm asking you to support me for another term."
Surely Weber would have argued similarly had Jeanne Ives won the primary.