By DOUG IBENDAHL • September 19, 2011
In 2010 there were a total of 6,705 precincts in Illinois. (That’s across the state’s 101 counties other than Cook County. Cook has a unique legal structure and neither political party elects Precinct Committeemen there as explained below.)
Of those 6,705 precincts: 3,440 had no one running for Republican Precinct Committeeman in 2010. That’s a 51% statewide vacancy rate.
It also represents a major lost opportunity for thousands of Republicans and our entire Party. It’s unacceptable, and it’s a big reason why good Republican candidates are losing winnable races to the Democrats in Illinois.
The Illinois GOP is not coming close to matching the ground troops the Democrats field every election.
The goal of the Republican Precinct Project is to reduce the vacancy rate from 51% to below 20% next year. In 2014 our goal is to have it down to below 5%.
Every Precinct Committeeman spot is up for election in the March Primary. It’s an all-volunteer position with a two-year term. And since this is a party office as opposed to a public office, the March Primary is the election. The Democrats elect their own Precinct Committeemen in March.
We’re about simple education. Many dedicated Republicans don’t even know this opportunity exists. Too often this has been just an insiders’ game in Illinois. Meanwhile, some of our best potential committeemen are busy with work and family, and simply don’t get the information many would welcome and utilize.
Incredibly, our State Republican Party has never posted even a peep about running for committeeman on its website. In other states it’s a given that the State GOP encourages Republicans to run for these volunteer positions. Not so in Illinois. Here it’s mostly left to the good-old-boy system.
We’ll that’s not getting the job done. And that’s why we founded the Republican Precinct Project.
This is your Party. You don’t need anyone’s permission to run for one of these offices (except for maybe your spouse of course). However it’s certainly also our goal to encourage more pro-Platform Republicans to get involved in Illinois, the kind of committed volunteers who will seek this post for the right reasons.
Beating Obama and the Democrats starts with rebuilding the Illinois Republican Party.
Running for Precinct Committeeman and getting a seat at the table, is the single best and most effective way you can make a difference in next year’s historic election. It’s also the perfect place for a new person to get started in politics. Even most Presidential candidates began as Precinct Committeemen.
It’s also easy to do. Only 10 valid signatures (from registered voters) are needed from neighbors in your precinct to get on the March Primary ballot, and one of those signatures can be your own. Get at least 20 to be safe and 30 would be better.
September 6th was the first day to gather petition signatures. December 5th is the last day to collect signatures and to file those petitions with your County Clerk. So there is still a lot of time, but don’t put it off too long. Take advantage of the nice weather.
If you already have a good Republican Precinct Committeeman serving you – that’s great. You’re lucky. If she or he is running again, ask if you can help.
If you have any questions about any part of the process, don’t hesitate to contact me at 312.648.0061 or at firstname.lastname@example.org. I would just ask that you first review the linked materials.
IF YOU LIVE IN COOK COUNTY: Precinct Committeemen are not elected by Republicans or Democrats in Cook County. Instead, each party has 50 Chicago Ward Committeemen and 30 suburban Township Committeemen. Each is a four-year term, not two. The Township Committeemen were all elected last year. The 50 Chicago Ward Committeemen are up this election cycle, in the upcoming March 2012 Primary. The basic responsibilities are pretty much the same as a Precinct Committeeman in other counties – but there are typically many more voters involved, and the number of petition signatures needed is higher in most cases. Feel free to contact me if you would like more information.
And finally, if you decide not to run for office yourself this time but would still like to help, consider a financial contribution to the Republican Precinct Project. We need your help to reach and educate the thousands of new Republican Precinct Committeemen needed statewide.