“I’m glad the wheels are coming off for [GOP Chairwoman] Diane [Evertsen] and the party,” said McHenry Township Trustee Bob Anderson, a longtime supporter of the local party, “and I voted for her.”
Republicans such as Anderson, the Wonder Lake barber and tax reformer who has spent the past three decades fighting for the collapse of township government, and Lawrence, a political newcomer and an Algonquin Township trustee who was at one time aligned with tea party Highway Commissioner Andrew Gasser, now are calling for a top-to-bottom makeover of GOP leadership.
“My own idealistic view of the GOP would include a return to the Republican Party platforms, with each end of the spectrum able to hold their own views while still uniting against a common threat,” Lawrence said.
“They have to rebuild,” Anderson said. “It could only happen when they come out of this shell of protecting this political system.”
‘The breaking point’
Lawrence’s introduction to McHenry County politics came in 2016. She was appointed to a vacant precinct committeeman position and became a regular at political fundraisers.
Her involvement evolved into a larger role the next year, when she was elected as an Algonquin Township trustee – a job that would include infighting, lawsuits and a polarizing political environment that turned the attention of concerned taxpayers toward the bitter conflicts inside McHenry County’s most populous township.
In April, she continued her climb up the party ranks and won election as the GOP’s treasurer. That’s when her perception began to change.
“I watched as little to no effort was made to rally the party, raise funds, hold events or even support our candidates financially,” Lawrence said. “All suggestions I made regarding fundraising or rallying the party together were dismissed without consideration. Being the ‘younger, new girl’ who hadn’t yet ‘put in my time,’ I had to pick my battles.”
Lawrence said she decided to keep her head down and complete her duties, reporting finances in accordance with campaign disclosure law.
“The breaking point came when I realized that my service and hard work was not making a difference,” she said, “and my efforts could be more effective elsewhere.”
‘Not a phone call,
not an email, zero’
The Northwest Herald repeatedly has tried to contact Evertsen and GOP Vice President Chuck Wheeler to talk about what’s happening inside the party.
They could not be reached.
Radio silence is what Bob Anderson said he experienced when he reached out to local GOP leaders to garner support for his campaign to get voters to eliminate the McHenry Township Road District at the polls.
He reached out and reached out, he said, and got nothing in reply.
“Not a phone call, not an email, zero,” said Anderson, who has since condemned GOP leadership. “I think it’s lousy.”
The state of the McHenry County GOP has drawn criticism of other Republican leaders in Springfield.
“The party is a joke,” state Rep. David McSweeney said, pointing to a November election that included four Democrats winning seats on the McHenry County Board and two Democrats taking congressional chairs in Washington. “It’s completely ineffective.”
In May, McSweeney attacked Gov. Bruce Rauner for meeting in private with members of the McHenry County Republican Party.
McSweeney, a Barrington Hills Republican, took issue with Rauner’s proximity to Evertsen, who at one time served as president of the Minutemen Midwest – an organization the Southern Poverty Law Center designated a “nativist extremist” group.
“I’m a [Ronald] Reagan Republican,” McSweeney said. “The party needs to be inclusive and diverse. [McHenry County] party leadership is not reflective of Republican values. We have an extremist that’s hijacked the party.”
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December 21, 2018 at 12:46AM