Illinois GOP Chair Resigns, Citing ‘Power Struggles’ With Grassroots

SPRINGFIELD, Ill.—Don Tracy is stepping down as chair of the Illinois Republican Party—and he says party disunity is the reason.

“In better days, Illinois Republicans came together after tough intra-party elections. Now, however, we have Republicans who would rather fight other Republicans than engage in the harder work of defeating incumbent Democrats by convincing swing voters to vote Republican,” Mr. Tracy wrote in a June 19 resignation notice.

He pledged to remain party chair until his successor is elected, “preferably no later than July 19, 2024, at 5 [p.m.].”

Noting that the position is a “full-time volunteer job,” Mr. Tracy, who was elected chair in 2021, wrote that he has “had to spend far too much time dealing with intra-party power struggles, and local intra-party animosities that continued after primaries and County Chair elections.”

Mr. Tracy’s end date roughly coincides with the Republican National Convention, which will take place July 15–18 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, about 40 miles north of the Illinois border.

His statement also referenced the recent resignation of Vince Kolber as the party’s finance committee chair. Like Mr. Tracy, Mr. Kolber cited his discontent with the “grassroots,” arguing, among other things, that they were becoming an impediment to fundraising.

“Right now, our Illinois party is excessively focused on the newly engaged raising high, the banner of the ‘grassroots,’” Mr. Kolber wrote in a letter reproduced by the Illinois Review.

Both men voiced concerns over the elevation of Dean White to the position of National RNC Committeeman during last month’s state GOP convention. Mr. Kolber lost out on the role.

Also, the Illinois Republican State Central Committee removed Vice Chair Mark Shaw after a controversy over his actions at the convention, which allegedly included voting as a delegate despite lacking that status.

The statehouse’s Freedom Caucus described Mr. Shaw’s ouster as “a grassroots victory.”

Democrats have dominated the “Land of Lincoln” for years, and that trend has generally intensified during Mr. Tracy’s tenure.

After the 2022 elections, when the Democrat-controlled state legislature redistricted the state in that party’s favor, Republicans represented only three of the state’s 17 districts in the U.S. House.

Posting on X the Democratic Party of Illinois’ account responded to news of Mr. Tracy’s departure with three popcorn emojis, signaling amusement at an ongoing spectacle.


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