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Illinois Republicans Feeling Good About the Future

While November's elections are important, GOP leaders gathered at Republican National Convention say they're focused on strengthening the party for the long term.

TAMPA, FL -- With President Barack Obama carrying Illinois by 25 percentage points in 2008 and with a new poll showing him leading Mitt Romney by about the same margin, one might think there's not much joy among delegates and party leaders gathered here for the Republican National Convention this week.

And while even the reddest of the Republicans acknowledges that GOP presidential candidate Romney has little chance of carrying Illinois, those in Tampa stress that they're focused on building the party for 2014 and beyond.

"The presidential race will be an uphill climb for us," said state party Chairman Pat Brady, adding that Republicans are concentrating their efforts more on congressional and state legislative races this fall.

"In 2014, we’re going to take control of the state, and in 2016, we’re going to be a swing state (in the presidential race)," Brady said. "2012 is an important year, particularly for congressional races, but it’s part of a longer term plan to get more Republicans in office because we need to save our state."

GOP leaders see surge in engagement

Changing Illinois turn from a blue state to a red one — or even a purple one — by the next presidential election will be a challenge in a state where the governor's office and both houses of the General Assembly are controlled by Democrats.

But party leaders say they're seeing more engagement and excitement among Republicans than they have in years — and that should lead to success at the ballot box, they say.

"I’ve been to a number of conventions and I’ve never seen the Republican Party so unified since the Reagan days," said state Sen. Kirk Dillard, who represents DuPage County. "I think the Republican Party’s future in Illinois is bright. For the sake of the citizens of this state, we need a two-party state, with Republicans in control of Springfield, to get our fiscal house in order."

"I think there is a lot of enthusiasm like we haven’t see for a long time," added Karen McConnaughay, chairman of the Kane County Board and state Senate candidate. "You can feel it, you can feel that the momentum is really building."

Pat Rea, a delegate from Tinley Park who has been active in the party for years, said he seeing more and more people wanting to get involved.

"I’ve been the committeeman in Bremen Township since the last presidential election...and I can tell you when I came in, it was difficult finding people who wanted to actively get involved. Now it's difficult to handle all the vounteers," Rea said. "Is this new? It’s new to me."

Adam Robinson, chair of the Chicago Republican Party, said since he was elected to his post in April, more than 800 GOP volunteers have come forward to work on behalf of the party in the city.

"That's new volunteers," he stressed. "Republicans want to get involved and we’re simply giving them a way to get engaged. It’s grassroots…it’s very real support."

Illinois GOP leaders say part of that engagement is a result of unhappiness over the direction of the country since Obama has taken office.

"President Obama is a magnificant speaker and he outlined during the last campaign and since some extraordinary lofty goals and ideals...and none of them have worked," Rea said.

Could Obama really lose in Illinois?

Even though the state's Republicans are focused on building the party for the long term, it doesn't mean they're giving up on this year's presidential election — at least not publicly.

In 2008, Obama took 76 percent of the vote in Cook County, more than triple what GOP challenger John McCain received. But a poll released earlier this month shows Obama leading Romney by just 49 percent to 37 percent.

And Illinios Republicans say there are many who backed Obama in 2008 who will likley be sitting on the sidelines this time around.

"What I see is an incumbent president form our hometown who overpromised and underdelivered for his people in Chicago," Robinson said. "Independent voters and base democrats in Chicago — particularly in the black communitiy — feel this president really oversold them on a bill of goods he has not delivered. Quite frankly, he has not been 'left' enough for these guys, so they just aren’t going to vote for him.

"I’m going to make any claims and say that they’re going to show up for our guy," Robinson added. "But Obama is going to have some turnout issues in the city of Chicago."

"I think a lot of people now have buyer’s remorse," said U.S. Rep. Judy Biggert, whosed 13th District encompasses the southwest suburbs. "There are a lot of people who are really concerned about the slow economic growth and the lack of jobs, and I think people are really worried about where this country is going."

"It isn’t a done deal that the president’s going to win Illinois."

wayne citron September 10, 2012 at 03:11 AM
Seriously everyone, tone down the conversation! Someone got banned because his posts were the same, over and over again, enough already but do not demeanor somones service number 1 and 2 be respectful to one another and that is the exact reason someone got banned!! So to all, good night and you have my name!?
TakeBackIllinois September 10, 2012 at 02:15 PM
Ms. Singer, I couldn't agree with you more about being an educated voter! That is why many constituents, including myself, in the 9th District attended Mr. Biss's recent political meetings in Glenview & Skokie.If you were at the meetings, you heard him, yourself, (1) support a Progressive Illinois Income tax (twice), (2) support pension liability cost-shifting to school districts which will affect property taxes and (3) describe all Springfield legislators as "liars". These are facts. Many of us found his points incredulous; and, the way he he handled the the Wilmette business owner's question just rude. He may address some of your questions and concerns, and may be a nice guy, but his verbally stated positions on many IL pocketbook and taxpayer issues is something I, and many taxpayers in the 9th District, find fiscally irresponsible; and his pension cost shifting position will cause further financial distress to our local School Districts. I am glad that he has a worthy opponent in Glenn Farkas; an MBA, and local small business owner with private sector Pension experience. I am guessing that you will be at the upcoming debate and very much respect your difference of opinion which gives further proof that all politics are "local". I wish more of the constituents, in our great 9th District, would as concerned about the upcoming local election as you and I are- maybe then we could fix the the terrible financial morass that our state is facing.
V. Scheurich September 10, 2012 at 11:17 PM
Public Union greed in Chicago and the nation is watching every minute of this rape of the taxpayers being played out in the media. Now you know why the citizens are tired and have had it with Public Unions. http://weaselzippers.us/2012/09/10/chicagos-unionized-teachers-go-on-strike-even-though-they-are-the-highest-paid-in-america-make-62-more-than-the-average-chicago-family/
Sully September 11, 2012 at 01:02 AM
V, why is someone from Rhode Island, I think, posting on the Evanston Illinois Patch? I'd be williing to guess that if you truly are who you say you are, you know nothing about the real situation in Chi-town.
Guido McGinty September 11, 2012 at 01:31 AM
Sherlock has solved the mystery. We shall be free of the scourge of Ocean Staters.

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