Even as Illinois Republican Party leaders planned their local conventions this week, a gathering of about 250 people plotted a GOP mutiny in St. Charles Tuesday night.
Republican politicians at all levels on the November ballot joined local Tea Party members to celebrate the deadline for filing federal income taxes. But the annual gathering served as a more of a rally to encourage Tea Party adherents to fill as many local Republican precinct committeemen slots as possible.
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The mention of Republicans like state Rep. Tom Cross of Oswego, state Rep. Mike Tryon of Crystal Lake and U.S. Sen. Mark Kirk elicited as many boos from the audience as Obamacare. State Sen. Jim Oberweis said there's only one plan of action that can address that sense of unhappiness with the GOP leaders.
"You want to know what you can do?" the Republican candidate for U.S. Senate told the assembled audience. "Take over the Illinois Republican Party."
Oberweis hasn't shied away from bucking party leadership during his political career. But he pushed for Tea Party support Tuesday in his bid to defeat Democratic Sen. Dick Durbin this November. He even led the crowd in a chant that seemed to be a campaign slogan in the making.
"Repeat after me: Millionaire. Career politician. Dick Durbin. Must Go," Oberweis said.
Carpentersville's Jack Roeser continued the theme with a specific call to action.
"The central committee of the Republican Party of Illinois are worthless," Roeser said. "We've got to stick with the Republican Party, but it's got to be reorganized. What you should do is get in there and take over from the inside."
Failing a Tea Party takeover, other local politicians at Tuesday's rally showed they were ready to set targets on foes all Republicans can agree upon: Illinois Democrats.
State Rep. Jeanne Ives of Wheaton congratulated Tea Party members for being a "target for retribution" for entrenched politicians. But she concentrated her criticism on the familiar themes of Democrats wanting to pilfer hard-earned income through higher taxes and out-of-control spending.
"In Illinois, it's time to be troublesome because the politicians in charge now are burdensome," Ives said. "I will continue to be troublesome, just as troublesome as possible in Springfield."
Tea Party members have an opportunity to cause some trouble for Republican Party leadership this week, as township and county-level party organizations host their conventions.
Kane County Republicans will vote on party leadership at 6 Wednesday at the Bliss Creek Country Club in Sugar Grove. Cook County Republicans will meet at 7 p.m. at the Parthenon Restaurant in Chicago. DuPage County Republicans will meet at 7 p.m. in the county administration building in Wheaton. Will County Republicans will meet at 7:30 p.m. at the Joliet Country Club. Lake County Republicans will meet at 7 p.m. at the Midlane Country Club in Wadsworth.