Battling the establishment, conservative John McGlasson won re-election for committeeman
John McGlasson won re-election for the 16th Congressional District State Central Committeeman, but it was a hard battle against attacks from the establishment of his own Republican party.
In the days leading up to the election, a letter signed by Reps. Jerry Long (R-Streator) and David Welter (R-Morris), and Sens. Chuck Weaver (R-Peoria) and Dave Syverson (R-Rockford) actively discouraged McGlasson from running.
“I was disappointed that they chose to do that,’ McGlasson said to the Illinois Valley Times. “I’ve been a vocal questioner of some of the things the party has done so it’s not unexpected.”
McGlasson’s panache for questions and hardline conservative approaches proved divisive in his party. He supported several conservative candidates in the primary, including Rep. Jeanne Ives (R-Wheaton) for governor against Gov. Bruce Rauner as well as candidate James Marter against incumbent Congressman Adam Daniel Kinzinger (R-IL).
Both candidates lost and it caused the GOP to hesitate.
McGlasson also was one of three State Central Committee members targeted for defeat by Rauner and his allies who were attempting to purge the state's Republican leadership of conservatives and save Illinois GOP Chairman Timothy O. Schneider of Bartlett, a close ally of Rauner.
Ahead of the primary election in March, McGlasson slammed Rauner and Schneider for pushing party attacks on Ives.
State Rep. Tom Demmer (R-Dixon) eventually went up against McGlasson for committeeman. A former hospital lobbyist and public relations executive who was first elected to the Illinois House in 2014, Demmer joined Chicago Democrats last summer in criticizing an editorial cartoon that called attention to Chicago Public Schools' corruption.
Voters, however, decided to side with McGlasson, who won by 72.5 percent of the votes.
McGlasson noted that his victory conveyed how far the GOP establishment has strayed from its conservative values.
“I think they are making a serious mistake by not actively discussing our core principles,” he said. “The assumption that we can’t win as conservatives, I believe, is incorrect. I think that there are a lot of people who, like I do, have socially conservative values looking for a home right now and the Republican party are not speaking up for them.”
McGlasson believes that victory for the GOP lies in going back to those conservative principals.
“I think Republicans could win if they offer a haven for socially conservative voters,” he said. "Those people are kind of left without a home right now, and the Republican party should try to invite them in and not purge them from the party.”
Regardless of the hard-fought victory, McGlasson thanked his supporters for standing with him.
“It’s very gratifying,” he said. “I’ve had lots of very wonderful and dedicated supporters that worked very hard for me.”