SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (WLS) -- Republicans may be the minority party in Illinois but they plan to do all they can to energize the party faithful in the 2020 election.
On a local level it was about winning back seats the republicans lost in 2018, and on national level it was about standing with President Trump and against the socialist agenda touted by some Democrats, including several Presidential contenders.
"we're going to elect Donald Trump to make America great again, and it's working," siad House Minority Whip, Representative Steve Scalise at the 2019 Republican Day rally at the Illinois State Fair.
Thursday morning dozens of GOP members gathered in Springfield for a breakfast meeting
They heard from party leaders who were doing their best to focus on making a comeback. It was clear JB Pritzker's push for a graduated income tax will be a key issue and Republicans will be fighting that with everything they've got.
"We have to fight that as as a huge issue for us, that is a defining moment for the Republican Party and for all Illinoisans 58 is to make sure that that does not pass," said House Republican leader Jim Durkin.
Rep. Scalise fired up the crowd with a message geared directly to this very Trump friendly audience.
"You look at that and say 'is it ever going to better again? Can we ever take our state back?' You will absolutely take your state back and you will take your state back by fighting the machine," Rep. Scalise said.
Congressman Rodney Davis barely won reelection in a seat the democrats are targeting again in 2020.
"It's the partisanship, it's the attacks on our President, it's the attacks on Republicans that kinda make me angry and make me want to stand up and continue this fight on your behalf," he said.
Partisan politics took a back seat at one point to honor Capital Police Officer David Bailey for his heroic actions to go after the gunman who opened fired at a congressional baseball practice two years ago in which Congressman Scalise was shot and wounded, Bailey was also injured.
Congressman Darin LaHood, a strong supporter of President Trump, explained why he called the President last week to ask him not to commute the sentence of convicted former governor Rod Blagojevich. Trump said he was considering reducing Blagojevich's prison term, but now appears to have backed off.
"The fact that there has been no remorse, no apology on behalf of Blagojevich and what engaged in was really pervasive, extensive and the damage it's done to our government in our state is something that the White House needed to be made aware of," Rep. Hood siad.
LaHood said he did not get any promises from the President, but he said Trump was a good listener.
The President will be a significant issue in many races here in Illinois particularly downstate, but in suburban Chicago - where Trump could be a liability, Republican leaders will focus more on issues.