Chicago Republicans getting organized

July 9, 2010 4:29:19 PM PDT
For decades, the City of Chicago has been a Democratic stronghold, but some Republicans are ready to challenge for political power.

The Republican city strategy is built mostly around young adults who live on the North and Northwest sides, and to a lesser extent disillusioned voters in traditional Chicago Democratic strongholds.

Republicans leaders say they must do better in the City of Chicago to win statewide elections in 2010.

To the non-political eye, many Northsiders are Chicagoans going about their business, but to Jeremy Rose, the leader of the Chicago Young Republicans, they look like frustrated Republicans in one of the most Democratic cities in the country.

"They've sat on their couch, thrown the remote at the TV. [Feeling] frustrated, but there's nothing I can do, there's no organization I can get involved with, my vote doesn't matter down here," said Rose.

Rose and his Chicago Young Republicans are trying to increase the number of GOP voters in Chicago, focusing on new arrivals from other cities as well as the suburbs.

In last winter's primaries, just 34,666 city voters chose Republican ballots compared to more than ten times as many, 357,697, who voted in the Democratic primary.

"I predict quite easily that the Republicans are not going to get very many votes in the city," said Prof. Dick Simpson of the University of Illinois-Chicago. "They don't have precinct workers. They don't have people to go door-to-door."

Simpson recalled that when Richard J. Daley was elected mayor in 1955, Republicans held as many fourteen seats on the city council and were a force in Chicago politics.

"As Daley stayed in office and won re-election time after time, the Democratic Party became stronger and the Republican Party became weaker," said Simpson.

This year, there are signs of weakness in some wards considered Democratic strongholds, like a small demonstration today outside Congressman Jesse Jackson, Jr.'s office in Southshore, where residents are upset over Jackson's role in the Rod Blagojevich corruption case.

"Well, you know the second congressional district is Democratic," said voter Britte Herron. "But things have changed now... and things can go either way."

Jeremy Rose predicts that if Republicans can increase their vote to 23% of the total cast in the city in November, the party's candidates for governor and U.S. senator can win. The challenge, he says, is to get those suburban Republicans, living here for the time being, to get involved and cast a ballot.

"We realize that people are going to move back to the suburbs in a lot of cases and that's why we've nicknamed Chicago the 'Ellis Island' of Republican politics in the state," said Rose.

The young Republicans have a rally planned Friday night at the Cubby Bear in Wrigleyville, and 1,200 people are expected to attend.

The rally will feature candidates, live music and a cash bar.


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