If Republican-leaning counties in Illinois have more referendums on the ballot this November than other counties, it is not by coincidence.
Republican leaders are concerned that some conservatives feel betrayed by Gov. Bruce Rauner’s stances on taxpayer funds used to pay for abortions, transgender rights and other issues, and may opt to sit this election out.
To drive people to the polls, Mark Shaw, co-chair of the Illinois Republican Party said, some Republican counties will be putting advisory referendums on the ballot.
“You need to give them a reason to go to the polls,” Shaw said Thursday night at a fundraiser for Tonia Khouri, Republican candidate for the 49th state House District. “Get referendums on the ballots in townships and counties. Increase the turnout of people on Election Day and while they are voting, they may support Republicans up and down the ballot.”
State law requires that all advisories referendums for the November ballot need to be submitted by Aug. 6.
Shaw said with the strong showing by state Rep. Jeanne Ives in the primary, losing to Rauner by only 3 percentage points, and the emergence of former state Sen. Sam McCann under the Conservative Party banner as a third gubernatorial candidate, many Republican may want to watch from the sidelines this November.
“It is so important that none of us sit on our hands this election cycle and decide not to vote or decide not to vote for all of our Republican candidates that are on the ballot in November,” Shaw said.
Shaw, who chairs the Illinois GOP with Cook County Board member Tim Schneider, said that many of his conservative friends have grown tired of Rauner and other Republican leaders continually bashing Democratic power broker and Speaker of the House Michael Madigan.
“For the last 10 years in Lake County, I’ve been telling my Republican friends that Mike Madigan was our problem and that we had to do something to stop his complete tyrannical control of this state,” Shaw said.
He said Madigan has been in Springfield for 47 years and needs to go.
“How much longer do we have to live under this tyranny?” Shaw asked. “I know it’s hard to believe that one state representative out of 118 people could have that much power over what goes on in Springfield, but that is exactly what we’re dealing with done there.”
Shaw said that gerrymandered maps have given Madigan even more power. He noted that Lake County, which elects Republicans to county-wide offices, has no state representatives or senators based in the county because of the way the legislative maps were drawn in 2010.
State Sen. Jim Oberweis (R-Sugar Grove) said that regardless of individual’s personal feelings about Rauner, a Republican governor is vital to creating legislative maps that divide districts up equally and do not leave them in the hands of Madigan.
“Redistricting is the only chance we have to have some say in the legislative map,” Oberweis said. “Governor Rauner is not going to sign Madigan’s map.”
The state senator said that people should not be swayed by McCann and his candidacy.
“I sat next to him. He’s a nice guy,” Oberweis said of his former peer. “But he is bought and paid for by the unions.”
Khouri, who will face Democrat Karina Villa in November, said her message of lower property taxes, governmental reforms and accountability in Springfield has been resonating with people. Khouri, looking to replace retiring state Rep. Mike Fortner, said that she does not discuss U.S. President Donald Trump or national issues when on the campaign trail.
“I don’t talk about federal issues. I am not going to be able to impact things on the federal level,” Khouri said. “I am looking to impact things on the state level so that is my focus.”
She told supporters, “I am going to Springfield to take on these politicians in power who have bankrupted our state and hurt our families because if we look at Illinois right now, what are we looking at? We pay the highest property tax rates in the nation. We have over $130 billion in unfunded pension liability. Corruption and cronyism is rampant in Springfield; and all this together has the effect of us having a mass exodus of people leaving Illinois.”
Patrick Murtaugh said that people are seeing the impact of Republican leadership on the state and national level in their 401(k) accounts.
He said he understands people’s discontent with Rauner, “but you don’t throw the baby out with the bath water.”