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County Republicans Tout Successes

EDWARDSVILLE – Madison County Republicans celebrated local accomplishments and talked about hopes for statewide success Friday at its annual Lincoln Day Dinner, held in the Leclair Room at Lewis and Clark Community College’s N.O. Nelson Campus in Edwardsville.

About 200 people attended the event, according to Republican Party Chairman Ray Wesley. The event is one of two major fundraisers each year by the county GOP, along with a fall golf tournament in the fall.

He said it helps to get together with others in the party.

“We not only raise funds here but we get like-minded conservatives together so they can interact with each other,” he added. “Sometimes we get a lot of good ideas that come out of big meetings like this.”

In recent years the Republican Party has had a number of successes in Madison County. In 2016 Republicans took control of the Madison County Board and chairman’s seat.

“We’ve had a measure of success in the last three or four elections,” Wesley said.

Since then they have strengthened the party’s hold at the county level, including taking several seats in Granite City, something that would have been unheard of even just a few years ago.

“We weren’t surprised because we always put up great candidates,” he said. “It just took us convincing the public that we could manage better than the other side.”

Republicans have also swept most of the countywide offices, leaving only the coroner’s office in Democratic hands.

“Coroner is one we’d love to have,” Wesley said. “We’ll see what happens. (Democrat) Steve Nonn is retiring, and we’ve had two people announce they’re running.”

On Monday Nonn said Wesley’s remarks were premature and he has not decided yet if he will seek reelection next year.

Madison County Republicans have also been able to elect a number of Republican circuit judges, which has also allowed the appointment of more Republican associate judges.

The re-election of state Rep. Amy Elik, R-Alton, and the election of state Sen. Erica Harriss, R-Glen Carbon, were also noted.

“We’re always looking at getting legislation passed,” Wesley said. “We’ve got a few things that are on the hot stove burner, such as gun control.”

He noted they were “tickled to death” that U.S. District Judge Stephen P. McGlynn issued an order Friday blocking enforcement of Illinois’ ban on “assault weapons” and high-capacity magazines until a lawsuit challenging the law is resolved.

He also said tax reform is high on their list.

“That’s not something we’re going to give up on,” Wesley said. “We think the people of Illinois are overtaxed, and there are better ways to spend the state’s money.”

He acknowledged that there has been, and continues to be, some public infighting in the party.

“Any time you have an opportunity to make decisions, you’re going to have people with different opinions,” he said. “That’s what we’ve got. We’re going to continue to try to do what’s right, and we hope to bring them eventually into the fold so we can work together.”

Friday night’s keynote speaker was Missouri Secretary of State and Republican gubernatorial candidate Jay Ashcroft, who talked about the connection between the two states, as well as what he said were the failed policies of Gov. J.B. Pritzker and the Democratic-dominated Illinois General Assembly.

Also speaking were state Sen. Jason Plummer, R-Edwardsville, and John Ackerman, representing the state Republican Party and its Election Integrity Committee.

The event was emceed by talk show host Annie Frey.

Ashcroft began his speech talking about a number of hot-button issues and covered a wide range of topics.

“I’m not happy with the state of our country, and the radical transformation that has happened to our economy, our culture, and our values,” he said. He said Chicago is “infected with crime and decay,” and St. Louis has some of the same issues.

“It’s amazing that Democrats chose Chicago for its 2024 convention,” he said. “But let’s be honest; does anything else serve as a better backdrop for the impact of their disastrous policies?”

Ashcroft also talked about a number of other issues such as the controversy over transgender issues, noting he recently received attention from comments he made on the issue.

“You can’t change a man into a woman by chopping something off, and you can’t change a woman into a man by bolting something one,” he said.

Ashcroft noted it took years to get change in Madison County.

“We got it done, and it worked,” he said.

He told the group it seems Illinois’ biggest export now was its people through outmigration, leaving fewer residents.

“Nothing will change as long as J.B. Pritzker and a corrupt Democratic machine control Springfield,” he said, calling Pritzker a “failed governor.”

“And your state is worse off today than when he got in,” Ashcroft said. “You don’t have a strong state, or a strong economy, when your number one export is your people.”

He also talked about his proposals for Missouri.

“We don’t need any more Democrat plans for how to ruin states and ruin countries,” he said. “But we need Republicans to stand up with a policy and a plan to turn back what’s been done, to unleash the shackles.

He’s signed a “Taxpayer Protection Pledge,” which said he would not fight efforts to increase taxes. He said Illinois needs something similar to help the state release its potential; having it in Missouri puts pressure on Illinois.

He noted he is an engineer and, while politicians “fix the blame,” engineers “fix problems.”

“I’m here because you are all good people,” he said, adding thaat when the region does well it benefits everybody.

Two awards were given out to a man and woman in the party who have had a major impact over the past year. Bethany Behrorst received the Eleanor Schulte Award, which was presented by Harriss. Mark Achenback received the Chuck Hanfelder Award, presented by Elik.

The Madison County Democratic Party traditionally holds its countywide JFK Dinner in the fall.

Source : The Telegraph