Written by Greg Bishop
June 08, 2008
Springfield IL - A movement for direct elections of Central Committee members was shot down during the Illinois Republican Convention over the weekend. The resolution brought a vote to the floor Saturday, either in favor of or against a direct election of the Illinois Republican State Central Committee.
Prior to the resolution, Platform Committee chair Gene Dawson called for the vote to change the platform's language pertaining to euthanasia and assisted suicide.
Republican Chair Andrew McKenna conducted the verbal vote where the â€œayeâ€ seemingly won the majority, but not without a disruption from the floor delegates.
Within moments of the platform language vote, the resolution to oppose direct elections was introduced to the floor for a vote.
Chairman McKenna conducted a verbal vote. Delegates from the floor attempted to be recognized, but were met by the sergeant in arms. After an equal showing of ayes and nays, Chairman McKenna said â€œThe ayes have itâ€. The delegation floor burst into chants for a roll call vote when Chairman McKenna tried to move to the next item on the agenda. McKenna brought to the floor a standing vote after continued delegate outbursts.
There was confusion by some on the floor as to what was being voted on, partly because of the lack of time between the two votes. There were two votes back-to-back. One vote was to strike language from the platform and the other was the issue of direct elections of Central Committee members. Several delegates worked to make sure surrounding delegates were aware of what they were voting for or against.
After several minutes of counting standing delegates in favor of or against direct elections, it was 556 ayes and 160 nays to oppose the direct elections of Illinois Republican Central Committee members.
Senate Bill 600 was discussed Friday at the Platform Committee in Decatur.
The outcome of the vote on the general assembly floor of delegates during Saturdayâ€™s convention was not representative of the vote during the Platform Committee hearing on Friday, nor the voice vote on the floor of the general assembly.
Fridayâ€™s vote outcome in the Platform Committee was 11 opposed and 8 in favor. The resolution to the Platform Committee did approve a minority report for the direct elections of Central Committee members while approving a resolution to recommend opposition of direct elections to the floor. The alternate resolution to recommend opposition to direct elections passed.
The direct elections of Illinois Republican Committee members changed to a system of appointments by county leaders in the late 1980â€™s.
Many rank and file members of Illinoisâ€™s Republican Party believe a return to direct elections of Central Committee members will lead to a popularity contest where the candidate with the most money wins, this according to open discussion outside the convention.
Doug Ibendahl of ChampionNews.net believes the current system is open to manipulation â€œwith some really bad incentivesâ€.
Central Committee members are chosen by the heads of Illinois' 102 counties and not picked by voters during a primary election. The resolution that passed was a resolution to oppose direct elections restoring the status quo.
The Illinois Republican Convention was held June 6 and 7 in Decatur Illinois, the city where Abraham Lincoln made his first political speech. 178 years after Lincolnâ€™s speech, the Republican Party witnessed the largest attendance in Illinois history with 857 delegates and 668 alternates and guests. This was also the first time in Illinois Republican history that all 102 counties had delegations.
Greg Bishop can be reached by email: email@example.com