SPRINGFIELD - Any chance the conservative wing of the Illinois Republican Party had to take over party leadership next Saturday has been dealt away, with an announcement from the party headquarters Wednesday. Governor Rauner's pick Tim Schneider will remain the IL GOP State Chairman for another four years, and Lake County Chairman Mark Shaw will "co-chair" in a new position on the SCC.
And everyone - the Rauner wing of the party and the IL GOP Platform wing will be happy and united ...?
"To ensure that the Illinois Republican Party and the Republican County Chairmen’s Association work together in an efficient and seamless manner, I am happy to announce that I have appointed Mark as a Co-Chairman of the Illinois Republican Party as well," Schneider said in an email announcement Tuesday night.
"In this new role, Mark will be the primary liaison to our County Chairmen and will take the lead on grassroots engagement, training, and mobilization. To win in November we are going to need a grassroots army to battle the Democrats, and I am confident Mark will get the job done."
In other words, the IL GOP conservatives will return to their worker bee positions in the party apparatus - knocking on doors, making phone calls, canvassing voters - while the IL GOP Rauner-paid staff hive queen bees call the shots and make public policy with no regard whatsoever to the IL GOP Platform.
That's the way many are seeing their "compromise" - one the Rauner Wing was willing to initiate because the conservatives on the SCC were confident they had the votes to elect Mark Shaw as the new party chairman - taking the IL GOP in a direction that simply would not blend well with Governor Rauner's checkbook and piper tunes.
The SCC members that told Illinois Review they were confident that they had the votes for a party leadership upheaval backed off Wednesday.
"Jeanne Ives made a good statement on this agreement this morning. My views are very similar to hers," 17th CD SSC member Stan Bond said Wednesday. "This agreement will give conservatives a stronger voice within the ILGOP and additionally provides the County Chairmen a permanent seat and voice on the party’s executive committee which surprisingly they have not had up until now."
So what did Rep. Ives - who post-ILGOP primary holds the party's role of conservative wing leader - say about the IL GOP compromise that Bond liked?
"This is an encouraging about face by Rauner and his surrogates including Tim Schneider who spent the primary campaign ridiculing conservatives and telling us to leave the party," Ives said. "If this compromise elevates the party's conservative base in terms of both policy views and party leadership, that would be good."
But Ives added a qualifier - one that is deserved because the IL GOP leadership such as Pat Brady has publicly demeaned and degraded the conservative wing of the party.
"If this compromise turns out to be the typical surrender Republican Rauner play of buying people off with money and titles, that would not be good," Ives added. "While I'm guardedly optimistic, I'll reserve judgment to see how the deal operates in practice."
It's too bad Mr. Shaw didn't see fit to fight for the takeover of the IL GOP - so that the state's party would reflect the rest of the nation's Republican stance and not continue in the failed Democrat-lite direction its leadership has been pursuing for years.
Those conservatives that hold to conservative principles first and the Republican Party affiliation second have been left with no political home for this election cycle. That's an ugly reality, and one that must be processed.