CHICAGO (AP) — The odds are historically against them, but Illinois’ beleaguered Republicans are looking to reverse their fortunes by recruiting help in the heart of enemy territory: Democratic Chicago.
Three days after the end of a legislative session where the Democratic-controlled General Assembly failed to address a number of pressing issues, Republicans announced efforts to revamp their ranks within the city.
Party officials say the push to find state legislative and City Council candidates is “unprecedented” because of its open, “American Idol”-style public vetting process. Illinois House Republican Leader Tom Cross and state Sen. Matt Murphy announced the campaign Tuesday at a news conference.
Republican leaders say Democrats shouldn’t assume they have a permanent lock on the city, but they acknowledge the GOP has failed to recruit effective candidates, train them or keep them on the ballot.
In recent election cycles, five or fewer of the 37 state legislative seats located within Chicago have been contested, spokesman Chris Cleveland said.
“Half of success is showing up,” said Murphy, a former lieutenant governor candidate and leading budget negotiator in the Statehouse. He called the state’s Democratic leadership an “utter failure.”
“Just look at last week in Springfield,” he said, referencing the Legislature’s adjournment last Friday without deals on pensions, gambling and gay marriage. “This could not come at a better time.”