Run, recruit, or don’t complain

By DOUG IBENDAHL • November 21, 2013


Obama’s bad. Madigan’s bad. Quinn’s bad.


 I get it.


If you’re the kind of person who would like to do something productive in response to bad Democrats, beyond just preaching to a self-selected choir on Facebook, then run for Republican Precinct Committeeman – or at least help recruit.


There are currently 6,407 precincts in Illinois. And that doesn’t even include Cook County, which is the only county in the state which doesn’t elect Precinct Committeemen. (Cook has a unique legal structure as explained below.)


Of those 6,407 precincts: 3,142 had no one running for Republican Precinct Committeeman in 2012. So there’s now a 49% statewide vacancy rate for the elected ranks.


It’s an unacceptable condition, and it’s a big reason why good Republican candidates are losing winnable races to the Democrats in Illinois. We’re not coming close to matching the ground troops the other side puts on the ground every election.


All 6,407 Precinct Committeeman spots are 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.


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 candidates are busy with work and family, and simply don’t get the information many would welcome and utilize.


Certainly don’t look for our State GOP to help. Because we haven’t yet restored direct elections for the members of the State Central Committee, we’re stuck with a failed system where many bosses don’t want more Precinct Committeemen. Many of the old incumbents have learned to game a bad system by putting their selfish interests ahead of what’s good for the Party.


Incredibly, our Illinois Republican Party still refuses to post anything 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 the bosses don’t want nobody nobody sent.


We’ll that’s not getting the job done. And that’s why we founded the Republican Precinct Project in early 2011.


This is your Party. You don’t need anyone’s permission to run for this or any other office – except for maybe your spouse of course.


It’s very 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. It’s a good idea to get 20 just to be safe.


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.


For more information on how to run for Republican Precinct Committeeman, including the petition form, go here.


If you have any questions about any part of the process, don’t hesitate to contact me at 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 has a four-year term. The 50 GOP Ward Committeemen were all elected last year. The 30 GOP Township Committeemen are up this time. 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.


Monday, December 2 is the last day to collect petition signatures and it’s also the last day to file those petitions with your County Clerk.


Doug Ibendahl is a Chicago Attorney and a former General Counsel of the Illinois Republican Party.


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