Illinois has long been a blue state, mainly because of the way Chicagoans lean. But if state Republicans had hopes of gaining, or even maintaining ground last Tuesday, their hopes were quickly quashed. Democrats ousted Republicans in the race for governor and in two key congressional districts, and the General Assembly locked in Democratic supermajorities in both houses.
So where do Republicans in Illinois stand today, and what’s to come?
Joining us to reflect on the election results and the direction of the state’s GOP party:
Pat Brady, former chairman of the Illinois Republican Party
Jennifer Nevins, a Trump delegate to the 2016 Republican National Convention who describes herself as a pro-Trump conservative activist
Former Republican U.S. Rep. Joe Walsh, host of “The Joe Walsh Program” on AM 560 The Answer who identifies as a tea party conservative
Below, each of our guests offer their thoughts on the question, Where are Republicans in Illinois headed and why?
Brady: We need to be realistic and take a good hard look at the results. I think we need to make an evaluation of what happened and figure out a plan going forward, which requires that the party be unified and pick the best approach to attract the independent voters we need in order to win statewide.
Nevins: We’re headed straight into the ditch. The party in Illinois is already splintered at the seams. The leadership has no interest in a cohesive party. As long as you vote for their candidates, everything is fine. The second you have an independent thought in your head, they come down on you like a ton of bricks and they do not have regard for the conservatives that make up the base in this state. So unfortunately the GOP in Illinois has a very dismal future. I think after [J.B.] Pritzker runs his tax campaign through this state for the next four years, we may have an opportunity to build on the ashes, but that is going to require an entirely new leadership, root to branch.
Walsh: I don’t know where they’re headed. I can tell you where they should be headed. They should put every kind of Republican in the room at the same table and we all got to be unified ... The only way the Illinois Republican Party does anything is if Jennifer Nevins, Pat Brady and Joe Walsh and people like us can all sit down in a room and put aside our differences on Trump, abortion and guns, and just focus on Illinois issues ... What’s going on in Illinois right now has nothing to do with Trump, guns, abortion. It has everything to do with people, anybody and everybody, who can leave this state is leaving this state because of taxes. And if all Republicans can’t come together and talk about that, then forget it. We don’t deserve to have a party here.