Prominent Illinois Republicans were long known to be of a certain brand — fiscally conservative, socially moderate to even liberal.
Republicans like former governors Jim Edgar and the convicted George Ryan regularly cut deals with elected officials across the political aisle.
Mayor Gary Grasso of Burr Ridge says the Republican Party needs to listen to those more moderate voices if the party is to make an impact going forward in Illinois.
“Socially-moderate Republicans — still conservative at their fiscal core — must no longer acquiesce to the far right who insist on candidates who espouse intolerant social policies that easily allow Democrats to define us all as too extreme to hold office,” Grasso wrote in a Chicago Tribune op-ed.
Grasso believes that Illinois Republicans have become divisive within their own party on social issues such as abortion and gun laws. As a result, moderate voters are shunned away from discussing these topics.
“Now the far right says, ‘Now you’re not Republican.’ Well that’s wrong. That’s the wrong way to approach it,” Grasso says.
“Abortion in this state is a political reality” he added.
As a self-described moderate Republican, Grasso would still consider the 15-week abortion ban, parental notification and cutting state and federal funding for abortions.
With regards to gun laws, Grasso says restrictions should be discussed, especially about semi-automatic weapons.
“Why should someone just be able to walk in and get a semi-automatic weapon? What’s wrong with a background check? What’s wrong with a mental health check? What’s wrong with knowing why you need that gun?” he said.
With many moderate Republican candidates not making it out of the primaries due to the far-right Republican base voting for like-minded candidates, Grasso believes Illinois Republican candidates will not be able to gain the power necessary in the state to reflect Republican values.
“Moderate Republican voices have to stand up, they have to push back against that idea,” Grasso said.
Despite feeling that the Republican Party is straying away from the center, Grasso said that he might consider voting for Donald Trump if he were to run again in 2024, given his stance on the border, international affairs and other topics.
“He’s gotta get back to how he ran in 2016 and away from the election issues and some other things that he’s been supportive of,” Grasso said.