Grassroots Dominate IL GOP State Convention and Expand Influence as State Party Leaders Lose Their Cool

27 May, 2024

By Illinois Review

On Saturday, the influential conservative grassroots base of the Illinois Republican Party scored major victories during the GOP State Convention in Collinsville – as delegates from across the state elected Dean White as the new Republican national committeeman and Donald Trump-endorsed U.S. Rep. Mary Miller, (IL-15) as the Illinois Delegation Chair to nominate President Trump at the RNC Convention in Milwaukee.

The state convention did not lack drama, as state party officials tried their best to maintain power and protect their own establishment-supported candidates. On Friday, this publication reported that the RNC Committeeman Nominating Committee voted 14-3 to keep Vince Kolber on the ballot despite failing to meet the candidacy requirements as outlined by the IL GOP’s own bylaws.

As part of the nomination process, RNC national committeeman candidates are required to submit before the convention their certified voting record to show that they voted in the last three Illinois Republican primaries. But Kolber, who is registered to vote as a full-time resident in both Illinois and Wisconsin – only submitted information for two Illinois primaries – 2022 and 2024. The omission of where he voted in 2020 would have automatically disqualified him from running for national committeeman per the bylaws, but an exception was made and Kolber remained on the ballot. Kolber would later be eliminated in the first round of voting.

Late Friday and Saturday, more drama followed, as backroom deals and procedural gamesmanship were deployed to strike a deal within the RNC Committeeman Nominating Committee – a deal that meant that Mark Shaw – and not the grassroots-supported candidate Dean White, would be the committee’s official pick for national committeeman. But when word spread, a resolution was drafted by the grassroots that would force an open convention floor vote. In other words, an election, instead of a selection.

But as expected, the IL GOP and their lawyer John Fogarty – who also served as Richard Irvin’s lawyer during his failed campaign for governor, used procedural rules to try and stop the resolution. The resolution required 50 signatures to force a floor vote for national committeeman – and tactics were deployed to try and keep the resolution from gathering the required signatures. Despite having 58 signatures, Fogarty worked one by one to knock them out. Additional signatures were presented before the deadline, but in the end, the grassroots only had 49 signatures, giving Fogarty and the establishment elite a brief victory.

But the grassroots had a back-up plan: get a supermajority of the delegates to decline the nominating committee’s vote until it was the vote they wanted.

Not surprisingly, Shaw would lose the first three rounds of voting to White. And after each round the nominating committee would come back with the same decision – that Mark Shaw was still their candidate. But after the third consecutive round of losing, Shaw was approached by fellow state central committee member Aaron Del Mar, who saw the writing on the wall – and told Shaw that it was time to withdraw and support Dean White. Angered by the suggestion and still upset by the election results, Shaw threatened Del Mar – a former MMA fighter, that he was going to take him outside and beat him up.  White would win the fourth round of voting by the committee 10-7, but when presented to the delegation, the acceptance was nearly unanimous. Thus, Dean White secured the vote to become the next RNC Committeeman replacing establishment favorite and Richard Irvin campaign architect Richard Porter.

But the drama was not over as late Friday night, embattled IL GOP chairman Don Tracy withdrew himself from the running to be the Illinois Delegation Chair to nominate President Donald Trump at the RNC Convention in Milwaukee, after realizing that the room full of delegates was not on his side. Tracy then supported Miller, who is grassroots and a crowd favorite who was endorsed by President Trump in her re-election to Congress, in her bid to become the delegation chair. Rhonda Belford was also elected as the new RNC National Committeewoman.

Many IL GOP officials continue to blame this publication for publishing articles critical of the establishment-base of the party – and that anger towards Illinois Review was on full display during the convention.

By Illinois Review