The guest roster read like a Who's Who of local and national Republican and conservative figures.
Among them were U.S. Rep. Peter Roskam, former congressman and now broadcaster Joe Walsh, U.S. Rep. Randy Hultgren, all four Illinois GOP gubernatorial candidates (Bill Brady, Kirk Dillard, Bruce Rauner and Dan Rutherford), as well as media figures such as WLS-AM radio host Dan Proft, Fox news commentator Michelle Malkin and radio host Dana Loesch.
They gathered on Saturday for the first Restore Illinois Summit convention at the Donald E. Stephens Convention Center, an event sponsored by the national conservative SuperPAC Americans for Prosperity Foundation: Illinois.
The summit was billed as "free market activists" interested in pulling Illinois back from its financial brink,
"I came to Congress the same day that Nancy Pelosi became speaker of the House," said Roskam, the congressman from Wheaton and chief deputy whip for House Republicans. The crowd of about 190 people uttered sounds of disapproval.
"Talk about mixed feelings," Roskam said.
Roskam said about the Democrats, "Our opponents want us to feel confused. Our opponents want us to feel discouraged. Our opponents want us to think the onslaught of collectivism is here, and there's nothing we can do but yield to. My friends, our opponents have underestimated us."
The crowd applauded as Roskam said, "We are a group of people who are standing up for the founding of this country."
In the summit's first Saturday afternoon session, conservative donor and speaker Jack Roeser of Barrington was given a lifetime activism award by Prosperity for America.
Walsh, now a radio host on AM 560, took the stage to introduce Roeser.
"Let me tell you," Walsh said, "this guy was Tea Party before anyone thought to put those words together.
"He has fought his entire life for freedom and for limited government. If you're the No. 1 enemy of the teachers unions around the country, you're doing something right."
Roeser, founder and president of the Family Taxpayers Foundation, a nonprofit organization pressing for school choice in Illinois, wasted no time in dropping political napalm on the state's financial crisis.
"(Illinois) is the most crooked and the most broke," Roeser said. "And the one who put us there was the teachers union, the stinkin' IEA. (Illinois Education Association).
"Just think about what a rotten thing it is. That self-serving union is teaching your children, and doing a lousy job. I'm a businessman, and I've had to sift through the unprepared people I've hired over the years. I have found they neither teach morals nor arithmetic in public schools."
West Chicago resident David From, the Illinois director for Americans for Prosperity Foundation, said the summit is made up of people united to take back the reins of government from Democrats and to stop Democratic proposals such as the progressive income tax.
"We're here for our citizens to learn how to take back our state and get it back to fiscal sanity," From said.