CORRECTION: Halbrook suggests Illinois GOP have a "serious discussion" on future of party
Rep. Brad Halbrook (R-Shelbyville) concedes the time for soul-searching for the Illinois Republican Party is now.
“I think we definitely need to look at the future of the party,” he told the Chambana Sun. “Election night was not a good night for Republicans in Illinois. Clearly, what we have been doing is not working. I think it is important for us as a party to evaluate what went wrong and what we need to do to have success moving forward.”
Cook County GOP Chairman and Cook County Commissioner Sean Morrison recently called for an immediate meeting GOP after learning that Gov. Bruce Rauner attempted to find a replacement for the 2018 re-election bid. Morrison had the public support of Illinois GOP State Central Committee member John McGlasson.
Halbrook said it’s clear a different message is needed after Democrats easily swept to power in both chambers of Congress in Springfield while also easily ousting Gov. Bruce Rauner to take over the Governor’s Mansion.
“We absolutely need to have a serious discussion about the future of the party, but I will leave it up to our party leaders to decide how that process should work,” he added. “The only thing I can do is focus on local races. We won all of the races we competed in here in Shelby County. We are focused on winning elections at the local level.”
Halbrook said one of the first things party leaders need to take a hard look at is assessing who they allow on the ticket as party representatives.
“We need to focus on candidate recruitment and we need to focus on the issues voters care about,” he said. “The vilification of House Speaker Mike Madigan is not a message. We need to be the party with ideas and creative solutions to the problems facing our state. We have to rally the people of Illinois behind visionary leaders who will change the political culture in this state. If we do that - we can turn our electoral fortunes around.”
Even now, with democrats in complete control across the state, Halbrook said it is important that Republicans continue to be who they are.
“It is difficult to get any of our legislation out of committees and onto the floor for a vote,” he said. “Obviously, we do not have the votes to stop anything on the floor. The only thing we can do is slow the process down. This is why voter education is so important. We need to mobilize citizens to put pressure on the Democrat leadership to change course in Illinois. This is the only way we can get around the Democrat leadership in the House and the Senate.”
Editor's note: An earlier version of this story erroneously reported that Rep. Halbrook joined Cook County GOP Chairman and Cook County Commissioner Sean Morrison in calling for an immediate emergency GOP meeting. This has since been corrected to reflect Halbrook's opinion: discussions need to be had and that it is up to the leaders of the GOP party to call for the meetings.