Chicago GOP to announce major initiative at City Hall tomorrow

Tomorrow morning, 10:30 am, City Hall, second floor, the Chicago Republican Party announces its major initiative for the year. We're going to run candidates across the city, and we're kicking off an advertising campaign to find them. House Republican Leader Tom Cross and Senator Matt Murphy will speak.

Everyone is invited.

The full press release is below.

Monday, June 3, 2013
Contact: Chris Cleveland, 312-339-2677, [email protected]

Chicago Republican Party to launch very unusual recruiting campaign for candidates in Chicago

On Tuesday, June 4 the Chicago Republican Party will hold a press conference to announce an unprecedented advertising campaign, recruiting effort, and vetting process for candidates for the State Legislature in the City of Chicago.

Location:  City Hall, second floor
Date:        Tuesday, June 4, 2013
Time:        10:30 am

Speakers at the press conference will include House Republican Leader Tom Cross and Senator Matt Murphy. Several prominent Republicans will also be in attendance.

The goal of the recruiting project is to place a credible Republican candidate on the ballot in each of the 37 General Assembly districts that are substantially within the City of Chicago.

The project has four elements:

•    An advertising campaign, running in June and July, designed to attract candidates.
•    An American Idol-style vetting process in which candidates compete for party backing.
•    Candidate training.
•    A signature-gathering campaign for petitions, followed by a legal defense against the inevitable Madigan-backed challenges.

Successful candidates will receive backing from the party in the 2014 general election.

All candidates will be vetted and selected by the end of August, petitions completed by October, and legal defense completed in early 2014.

It is very unusual for a political party to advertise for candidates or hold an open, competitive vetting process.

The advertising campaign

The Chicago Republican Party will launch a focused Internet advertising campaign to recruit candidates. The target audience is the 150,000 people in the city who vote Republican in a general election. The Chicago Republican Party has identified over 50,000 target voters by matching voter lists against Internet browsing habits, and will serve banner and video ads over the web to those specific individuals.

Potential candidates will apply for consideration through the website.

The vetting process

Each candidate will be asked to submit a resume and to fill out a survey on their policy preferences and on their ability to run a campaign. Qualified candidates will be asked to speak before a vetting committee. The committee’s mandate is to select credible candidates who adhere to core Republican values. There will be no litmus tests.

The signature-gathering campaign

Once candidates have been selected, the Chicago Republican Party will mobilize its 3,000 volunteers to hit the streets and gather signatures. Candidates for State Representative require 500 signatures and candidates for State Senate require 1,000.

In past years the Democratic Machine headed by Mike Madigan has mounted a vigorous legal challenge to any legitimate Republican candidates on the ballot in Chicago. The Chicago Republican Party has raised sufficient funds to mount an equally vigorous defense.

The motivation

For decades the Chicago Republican Party failed to provide voters with an alternative to the Daley / Emanuel machine.

Each election cycle only a few Republican candidates placed their names on the ballot in Chicago, and quite often the candidates themselves weren’t qualified to serve in the legislature. The party did little to recruit or back credible alternatives to Democratic incumbents.

“Today, the Chicago Republican Party acknowledges the truth,” said Chicago GOP spokesman Chris Cleveland. “We have failed to do our job.”

“This initiative is about two things: offering a credible alternative to one-party rule, and raising the Republican vote in the City to help our statewide candidates.”

Cook County currently contributes a surplus of roughly 720,000 Democratic votes in statewide elections, and the rest of the state almost matches that number with Republican votes. Approximately 20% of Chicago’s voters vote Republican.

The number of voters in the city is large enough that an increase of 5% in the citywide Republican vote will give statewide Republican candidates a significant advantage.

“In the wake of the Democratic Party’s failure to pass any meaningful legislation on pensions, the budget or school choice this session, it’s time for Republicans to offer an alternative,” said Cleveland.

“If we place 37 people on the ballot, it is very possible that some will win. It is certain that the overall Republican vote in Chicago will increase, and that may be enough to win the races for Governor and Attorney General,” said Cleveland.

“This project has the potential to make Illinois a red state,” said Cleveland. “The stakes couldn’t be higher.”

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