An Opposing View of Direct Election of GOP SCC

Written by Larry D. Smith

As many of you know the issue of direct election of the Illinois State Central Committee people has been around for a long time predominantly promoted by a single individual. Though I am always open to new and better ideas, it is unfortunate this ill conceived idea is once again being revisited.

It is a bad, poorly thought through idea.

I called the primary promoter of this concept to give him a fair hearing on something he was clearly passionate about. His explanation came down to essentially “power to the people.”

I’m all in for representative government and surely political processes. When I asked what struck me as obvious questions I was rewarded with being denigrated on the phone. That never works for me.

That should never be a part of sincere dialog on our differences. 

Here’s what is wrong and not being said about this concept, and why as an elected PC, County Chairman and State Central Committeeman for the 14th Congressional District,

I am firmly opposed to direct election of the state central Committee.

  1. Direct election will require every state central committee person to run a general population campaign equal to our Republican congressional candidates. That is a six figure campaign that very few true grassroots Republicans can afford, let alone implement. In the 14th CD that means reaching in excess of 800,000 voters across seven counties, the vast majority of who don’t even know what a state central committee is or does.  We already struggle to get voters informed and engaged to support down ballot solid candidates. It is not credible to believe the general population voter can and will make a better choice than elected PCs and County Chairmen who already have personal knowledge, insight and understanding of Republican values and platforms.
  1. To point to the Democratic Party process as our example of “power to the people” is incredibly naive. Go look at their website, as I did, and see what the outcome of their process has produced.  You will find that no less than 14 of their 34 state central committee members are current elected officials. It is clear that elected officials and the current and former leaders of the Democratic Party have a significant advantage of both financial resources and name recognition.  That does not enable grassroots and just plain people who care about their state and county to engage successfully in the state central committee level.  Direct election does not and will not open our party up to a broader range of representation and voices.  Direct election favors the wealthy, the “connected” and those with name recognition.  Is that what we want for our party?
  1. We have all seen the abuse by the Democratic Party when you look at the abusive legislation passed in the last two years and the equally abusive gerrymandering of our state.  You know by fact or intuitively there is little that is beneath their “win at all costs” theology.  Direct election opens the door to more Democratic, organized crossing over party lines in the primary to potentially elect Democrats to our central committee.  Does any thinking person even want that door opened?  One success there and a Democrat sitting inside our state central committee would disable the proprietary plans and actions of our entire state party.  Do you think for a moment the Democrats are incapable or unwilling to pursue that in this state?
  1. The current state central committee process empowers the PCs and County Chairs to elect and influence who represents them and their views at the state level.  I can tell you that when I ran for the state central committee I met with every county chair, every central committee and most township committees in the 14th Congressional District to meet them, become known to them, to get to know them and to listen to their views. It is impossible to parallel that in direct elections.  Those voters who take the time to vote and vote down ballot will be voting for someone they don’t know, never met, and are running for an office the don’t know about or understand.  How on earth does that make for a better state central committee and Republican Party?

Expecting the general public to make informed decisions in these elections is unrealistic and would likely lead to poorly informed outcomes.

This push for direct elections seems more like an impulsive reaction rather than a solution to any real problem. It doesn’t address the core issues and instead risks creating new ones.

As a state central committeeman I have held multiple meetings with the county chairs in the 14th CD. I have and continue to meet with the central committees and most of the township central committees. I spread my business cards around like grass seed.

I am available day and night.

I believe in the servant role of elected officials and that was who I was long before any involvement in politics and throughout my decades in private industry. I am blessed to be retired and able to work functionally full time to try and improve and uplift our communities, state and country through the Republican Party.

I am also a classic example of someone who does not have the resources nor name recognition to run a direct election campaign and under this naive direct election process will not run for the state central committee again.

In conclusion, direct elections for State Central Committeemen present numerous downsides and no tangible benefits. This path would undermine our party’s integrity and effectiveness.

Therefore, I do not and will not support this initiative.