Working to even the scales between Democrats and Republicans in Chicago districts is only one potential benefit of the plan, as was evident by the participation of Cross and Murphy, neither of which hails from or represents Chicago.
Officials said they expect voter turnout among Chicago Republicans to increase by at least 5 percent as a result of the campaign. That could help give Republican candidates an upper hand in statewide races, including the governor’s race, which the party narrowly lost in the last election.
Murphy is a former lieutenant governor candidate who could make a bid again in 2014, and Cross is a likely candidate for attorney general.
Adam Robinson, chairman of the Chicago Republican Party, said the effort has a $250,000 operating budget, of which $100,000 has been raised.
An estimated 150,000 Chicago residents who voted Republican in the last general election are targeted. Party officials say potential candidates will be recruited by web ads, before entering a public vetting process and having their campaigns backed by legal representation.
Currently, only one Republican state lawmaker hails from Chicago – State Rep. Michael McAuliffe, who succeeded his late father, Roger, a longtime Republican state representative.