Bernard Schoenburg: Illinois GOP leader urges strong party turnout for Trump

Bernard Schoenburg: Illinois GOP leader urges strong party turnout for Trump

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SPRINGFIELD -- State GOP Chairman Tim Schneider told Sangamon County Republicans last week that even though President Donald Trump might not win Illinois in November, he should get as many votes as possible.

Talking to about 700 people at the $100-a-plate Lincoln Day Dinner at the Bank of Springfield Center, Schneider shared stories from the Republican National Committee winter meeting in January at the Trump Doral golf resort in Florida.

"And I was given the order down there," Schneider said. "If we can't win for President Trump here in Illinois, at least let's drive the popular vote. The president wants to be re-elected. But this time, he wants to win the popular vote. So let's get our friends and neighbors out that aren't registered to vote, because we know that central and southern Illinois is Trump country, and we have to get those people out to vote."

In the 2016 election, Trump won with the most Electoral College votes but Democrat Hillary Clinton's popular vote count topped Trump's by nearly 3 million nationwide.

Schneider also said that Trump spoke to RNC members after returning from the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.

"We were warned that he was going to be tired and a little grumpy, and he should have been, but it was all fake news, because he spoke to us for an hour and half ... mesmerizing us with stories," Schneider said. He talked "about the deaths of ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi and Iranian General Qassem Soleimani; the exploits of Conan the dog, who was lauded at the White House for taking part in the Baghdadi action; House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, the stock market, African-American employment, immigration, and trade deals.

"No teleprompter," Schneider said. "So full of energy. He is an amazing, amazing ever-ready bunny of a man."

He recalled that Trump then gave the microphone to White House advisor Kellyanne Conway.

"She said ... 'two great trade deals, two great Supreme Court justices, and two dead terrorists. I'd say that this president deserves two terms. What do you think?'"

Applause followed in Springfield.

Schneider said Illinois is key to Republicans winning back the House. He urged help to re-elect U.S. Rep. Rodney Davis, R-Taylorville, who won a close race in 2018. He said "prime picking" for the party are Illinois House seats now held by Democrats Lauren Underwood in the 14th Congressional District, Sean Casten in the 6th, and Cheri Bustos in the 17th.

Schneider also called the Democratic Party of Illinois "a crime ring masquerading as a political party," and he praised the president for things including "a booming economy" and putting "Merry Christmas back into our holiday speech."

Steve Brown, spokesman for Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan, who also chairs the Democratic Party of Illinois, responded later that Schneider was "one of the architects" who brought in the administration of former GOP Gov. Bruce Rauner. The former governor's time in office, including a two-year budget impasse, has been "totally repudiated," Brown said. "If that's their attack plan from 2020, then they ought to just start their exit interview process."

Also at the Lincoln Day event, Dr. Tom Tarter of Springfield, a retired physician who has backing of the Sangamon County GOP in his primary race for U.S. Senate, said he sees a "red wave sweeping through the heartland." That wave, he said, will make him victorious in his bid to replace U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Illinois, of Springfield. Tarter is one of five Republicans seeking the Senate nomination in the March 17 GOP primary.

Meanwhile, Schneider introduced the new state GOP executive director. Derek Murphy, 28, a native and resident of Downers Grove, took over recently as Anthony Sarros moved to a job as national field director of the National Republican Senatorial Committee.

Murphy has a master's in business administration from Benedictine University in Lisle, where he earned a political science degree and also started the College Republicans.

"I love being in the trenches and there's no better time to be in the trenches," he said.

The Sangamon County GOP gave its annual Lowell Fraim award for loyalty and dedication to the party to Greg Stumpf, who has been a member of the Sangamon County Board since 1994.

Stumpf, 57, a licensed plumber who works for the city of Springfield on heating, air conditioning, plumbing and ventilation, is president of the Greater Springfield Township Northender's Republican Club (founded by the late Fraim in 1981), is a former grand knight of Knights of Columbus 4175 North Council, and is active in St. Aloysius Church.

During his acceptance speech, Stumpf acknowledged the event's keynote speaker, former U.S. Rep. Jason Chaffetz of Utah, who is now a Fox News contributor. Chaffetz, accompanied by his wife, Julie, had spoken about personal as well as political topics. He said that in his youth, he thought he had a "perfect, idyllic household" until his parents announced a divorce. He said both parents later succumbed to cancer -- far too young in the case of his mother. Chaffetz said Republicans and conservatives sometimes try to "beat people over the head with stats and facts," but to bring people into the fold, they should share personal experiences and "speak more from our hearts and explain why we believe what we believe."

"Jason, I listened to you," Stumpf said. "The humbleness that you represent and the humility is exactly how I try to live my life."

Stumpf and his wife, Denise, have a 28-year-old daughter, Jordan, but lost a daughter, Kelsey, to a traffic accident in 2007, when she was 19.

"You do not know what everybody goes through," Stumpf said. "But I still live my life, and I really believe in our Republican philosophy in our county. ... I'll continue to live humbly and with humility and serve this community and especially our Republican Party and God as best as I can."

Praise for Allmon

Judy Rich was among people in the audience last week as the Sangamon County Board voted Jim Allmon as county coroner.

Allmon was elevated from chief deputy coroner to run the office following the Jan. 28 plane crash that took the lives of Coroner Cinda Edwards; her husband, Frank, a former Springfield fire chief, alderman and mayor; and a family friend, John Evans of Glenarm.

Rich, Frank's sister, said that the Edwards' 30-year-old son Alex, also was at the meeting.

Rich said she wanted everyone to know that her family is in full support of Allmon.

"He handled our tragedy with such grace and compassion and sincerity, and I just have no doubt that he will do a magnificent job," Rich said. "He was Cinda's right-hand man, and she would have wanted this. ... Cinda would have been so proud."

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