Some of the published reports coming out of the Illinois GOP State Convention are so factually handicapped that this firsthand, documented, insider account from Harvey Bluedorn, New Boston, Illinois, should be read by any serious historian of the Liberty Movement. It is important for us to cheer on our victories but it is also important for us to read the stories of those who are hurt by insider games and to let them know that they are not alone, that we appreciate their efforts. Their tormentors may sometimes own the day but we own the future.
The 2012 Illinois Republican State Convention (June 8-9)
Illinois is allotted 69 delegates to the Republican National Convention. 54 national delegates are determined by primary voting, 3 national delegates are picked from the state central committee, and 12 national delegates are “at large” and to be determined at the Illinois Republican state convention, this year held June 8 and 9 at Tinley Park, Illinois.
54 national delegates – 3 for each of 18 congressional districts – were selected in the March 20 primary vote. The grassroots campaign gathered petition signatures for Ron Paul national delegate slates for each of the 18 districts. Neither Santorum nor Gingrich had national delegate slates for every district. Santorum raised a challenge to our signatures, but we negotiated a withdrawal.
Technically, both Illinois state law and Illinois Republican party rules say that no national delegate is pledged or bound to any candidate – delegates merely express their preference at the time of their filing. They are bound only by their conscience.
Ron Paul had been gathering crowds of one, two, three thousand – until he came to Champaign, Illinois, where he gathered a capacity crowd of six thousand (some reported 4 or 5 thousand, but we were there and we counted them). At this point, the media blackout of Ron Paul events had become complete – and the crowds kept getting bigger. In March, outside a Santorum rally in Illinois, we staged a respectful protest of the blackout (not interfering with Santorum’s rally), but the only notable effect was that at the next Santorum rally he reportedly boasted of having thousands at his last rally (but we were there, there were only 320 seats, and not all of them were filled – but four network cameramen were there.)
Ron Paul won no districts in the March 20 Illinois primary. In 102 counties, considered county by county, Paul carried between 5 and 15 percent of the popular vote, averaging about 9.4 percent overall across the state.
Weeks before the State Convention we discovered that the Illinois GOP regularly fails to gather even half of the available state delegate seats, so with 12 at-large national delegate seats available, we began working for state delegate seats to the state convention. Our aim? To influence the selection of national delegates.
[FYI: Delegates and alternates to the Illinois state convention are appointed by the county chair or its equivalent in Chicago land. Illinois politics is all about persons in positions of power with no accountability. Obama was trained on Illinois politics, our last two Governors are in prison, and our present Governor along with the Speaker of the Illinois House are trying very hard to join them. Then there is also Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel to consider.]
Once word came to the ‘power insiders’ of our efforts to secure state delegates from each county, word was sent to the county chairs to shut out Ron Paul supporters (and apparently Tea Party people also) and to fill up all state delegate seats so that no extra seats would be available – they even extended the filing date right up to the day of the convention in order to allow for more non-Paul delegates to register, and they developed a profile to determine the probability that someone was a Paul delegate.
[That’s shut out #1.] We were still able to slip in some Paul delegates – not everybody follows orders from on high. The overall affect was about a 2/3 increase in the number of total delegates registered for the state convention from four years ago. (In 2008 there were 724 credentialed delegates. In 2012 there were 1,229 credentialed delegates. 505 more delegates = 70% increase.) We estimate possibly two or three hundred of the registered delegates (each paying a $50.00 fee) never showed up at the convention. (Well, many of them had already served their purpose by filling up delegations and effectively closing us out.)
On Friday afternoon, June 8, 2012, we were basically reduced to observers at the various committee meetings – no motions were recognized or allowed. [That’s shut out #2.] The committee on selection of national delegates rejected our motion to put delegates up for a vote among the committee.
We were also advised that no motions would be allowed from the convention floor during the general session on Saturday. Then we learned that we could collect 50 petition signatures from the heads of county delegations and thereby bring a matter before the whole convention. We put together a petition for consideration of our delegate slate and we began collecting signatures.
At the Friday evening reception, Chairman of the RNC Reinhold Reince Priebus delivered a message on how President Barack Hussein Obama’s priorities are not our own. No one had much to say about Willard Milton (‘Mitt’) Romney other than that he is our nominee and we must unite in full support behind him because this is the most important election in our lifetime.
Later that evening there were fourteen “hospitality rooms” (parties) at the convention hall, including ours. We seemed to be the only ones having any fun – at least we showed them how to have a political ‘party.’ Through this party, the ‘mainstream’ and the ‘conservative’ elements of the Republican Party saw some of our strength, while the ‘power insiders’ apparently continued to nurture their paranoia. Connections were made here which will likely prove important in the future.
On Saturday morning, June 9, before the General Session, the clock was running down on our signature drive. It was reported that county chairmen were being told not to sign anything – some chairmen otherwise inclined to sign the petition became afraid, and some chairmen even sought to revoke their signature. When the clock ran out we had 41 signatures – another couple of hours may have made a difference, we’re not sure. We were alerted ahead of time of still other technical obstacles which were in the modified rules – rules which were not given out until the very moment the doors opened for the general session – which also happened to be the deadline for the petition. Anyway, we overcame all obstacles except the number of signatures, and we submitted 500 copies of the petition (that was one of the new obstacles) at literally the very last minute. They looked surprised – especially at the 500 copies, a detail which we were not supposed to know about.
There was still the prospect that the general session would vote down the delegate committee’s chosen slate of national delegates. Ours would then be the only other slate submitted. There are also legal reasons and political reasons for presenting the petition anyway.
The general session of the Illinois State GOP convention began at 11:30 AM with prayer, the Pledge of Allegiance, and the national anthem. So far so good.
Next, Illinois Republican Party Chairman Pat Brady praised reforms in Wisconsin under Governor Scott Walker and attacked corruption in Illinois under Chicago Democrat rule, singling out House Speaker Michael Madigan and his single-party rule, assuming total power, and effectively shutting out Republicans from the process. “We are under the thumb of a controlling, vindictive, ethically challenged, self-serving leprechaun, and I mean no disrespect to leprechauns, Speaker Mike Madigan. He has spent the last 40 years in Springfield, making himself rich, trading on his position of trust.”
There were other speeches, all emphasizing integrity, none of the speakers seemingly aware of the irony of what they were saying and how it conflicted with what they were doing to us.
The report of the Committee on Credentials was approved by the convention with no measurable objections.
However, there were measurable objections to the recommendations of each of three committees:
The Committee on At-Large Delegates and Alternates, the Committee on Platform and Resolutions, the Committee to Nominate National Committeeman and National Committeewoman.
We knew we would not be the only ones in opposition here, but we had no idea how just how large the dissent would be. The committee chairs ruled that the ‘Ayes’ prevailed. Pat Brady, the convention chair, ruled that each recommendation had passed by a clear voice vote and ignored numerous calls on each vote for a division by roll. He even had the audacity to declare “we’ve gotta play by the rules … listen, let’s be respectful.”
We have numerous reports and video evidence – from non-delegates seated outside of the delegations giving the voice vote – that the ‘Nays’ were in audible majority – which should be sufficient warrant for a division by standing show or roll call. [That’s shut out #3.]
Pat Brady was visibly agitated, fumbled about, and tried to characterize this as a disturbance brought on by Tea Party people and Ron Paul supporters, and justified his actions by claiming that we must get behind our nominee, Mitt Romney, because we can’t have four more years of Barack Obama. We know that there were a whole lot more than us who voted ‘Nay’ and who were calling for division.
Here is an independent recording at the convention of the voice vote for the at-large national delegates. (The vote is at 3:00)
At 1:45 PM, while the general session was still going on, many of the Ron Paul delegates (200+) walked out. Soon the lobby filled with many others walking out as well. We proceeded to gather in a room as far away from the general session as we could find. We were not there very long before security arrived and closed the room, and we proceeded to meet in groups in the lobby.
After lamenting “if we had only had more time, more resources, if we only knew this or did that,” the truth emerged that no matter what we did, the game had been rigged, weighted, and manipulated to shut us and others like us out. We represent a peril to ‘power insider’ politics. Maybe we can’t “out-hustle them, and outsmart them,” but as long as we have the correct character, principles, and issues on our side, we will be taking their place one-by-one. We are the future. They have no future.
Some comments by a convention attendee:
My Thoughts on the Illinois State Convention 2012
My Thoughts on the Liberty Movement, and Illinois State Convention
We were not the only ones to protest the process. William J. Kelly, a candidate for National GOP Committeeman from Illinois, objected to the convention committee’s process.
Kelly’s Advertisement: GIVE THE ILLINOIS GOP BACK TO THE PEOPLE
WBEZ news coverage: Illinois Republican panel blocks direct elections of top leaders
It appears that Tea Party people may have also been profiled by county chairs.