Kendall County Board Chairman Scott Gryder says the Republican Party needs to move on from Donald Trump.
Gryder’s bid for the 14th Congressional District seat came up short in the Nov. 8 general election.
The Republican nominee was defeated by incumbent U.S. Rep. Lauren Underwood, D-Naperville, who was reelected to a third term with a solid 54% of the vote.
In an interview immediately following the Nov. 15 county board meeting, Gryder said that while proud of the campaign he waged, he also faced “headwinds” in his effort to unseat Underwood.
“Trump remains at the top of the list,” Gryder said. “The Democrats did an effective job of making the race about him.”
Gryder found himself in something of a trick bag during the campaign, having distanced himself from Trump while still needing the votes of the former president’s diehard supporters.
“A lot of his policies are what we Republicans believe in, but it’s time for a change at the top if we’re going to win elections,” Gryder said.
“He turns off a lot of people,” Gryder added. “It’s time for us to pivot away from that.”
The Trump factor gave Underwood the opportunity to paint him as an extremist, Gryder said.
“She did an effective job,” he said.
Underwood also put Gryder back on his heels with the abortion issue, forcing Gryder to clarify his pro-life stance, he said.
“When you’re explaining, you’re not winning,” Gryder said.
Another challenge Gryder faced is the changing nature of the electorate in Kendall County, the fastest-growing county in Illinois.
“We’ve been seeing that trend,” Gryder said. “A lot of folks have moved here and brought their ideology and voting habits with them.”
Although the 14th District spans several counties, the casual election observer needed only to follow the vote counts coming out of Kendall County on election night to realize that Gryder was in trouble.
In the end, Underwood’s 22,690 ballots were enough to edge out Gryder with just over 50% of the Kendall County vote.
Gryder tallied 22,149 votes, far from the big plurality he needed to generate from his home county.
While Gryder carried LaSalle and Putnam counties, it was not nearly enough, especially when Underwood was putting up big numbers in Will County, capturing more than 57% of the vote there.
“I knew Will was going to be a battleground,” Gryder said.
During the county board meeting and in the interview, Gryder was relaxed and in good humor. He seems to have no regrets about his campaign despite the result.
“It was an epic journey that I was on. I love this county and the 14th District. I met so many good people,” Gryder said.
He seems to have consoled himself with the notion that this simply was not a good election year for Republicans.
“We needed that red wave,” Gryder said.
What’s next for Scott Gryder?
“I’m going to regroup,” Gryder said, before deciding on a future path.
After 10 years on the county board and six years as chairman, Gryder will be stepping down from elected office, but the 46-year-old clearly has ambitions for political office in the future.
“At the end of the day I want to serve the public,” Gryder said. “It’s in my blood to serve. It’s ingrained in me.”
In reflecting on his election defeat, Gryder has thought about what he might have done differently and has come to the conclusion that it would not have changed the outcome.
“Not enough to move the needle,” Gryder said.
With just one more county board meeting on Nov. 29 before his term expires, Gryder believes he is leaving a strong, unified group.
“I think they will be in good shape,” Gryder said. “It’s important to let new leadership come in.”
During his tenure, Gryder said he focused on improving transportation in Kendall County, providing transparency in government, keeping taxes low and managing the county’s explosive growth.
“I’m really proud of the way everyone works together here,” Gryder said. “We’re able to put political labels aside and work together.”
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November 16, 2022 at 05:08AM