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Illinois Legislature Considers Multiple Bills to Alter How Republican Party Chooses Central Committee

Published on March 31, 2009, by in General.

A few Illinois Republican legislators desire to change the election law, to provide that Republican Central Committee members be elected by primary voters instead of by elected local party officials. Democrats, who control state government in Illinois, have jumped into the fray, and have attached the idea as as amendment to several election law bills. See this story from the Galesburg daily newspaper of March 30.

Ironically, as the article implies (near the bottom), the U.S. Supreme Court ruled unanimously in 1989 that such decisions are not the business of the legislature, but of the political parties themselves. The 1989 precedent was Eu v San Francisco County Central Committee.

6 Responses

  1. citizen1

    What is need is more parties. Not more government control of the two parties the it favors.

  2. Phil Huckelberry

    If any of the bills with this amendment pass, I expect the Republicans to file suit, which could turn very interesting.

    The thing to remember is that unlike California and pretty much everywhere else, Illinois has “slating”, whereby the statutorily-recognized party structures may place candidates on the ballot when no candidate runs in that party’s primary for those offices. The Eu case doesn’t really address a situation like this directly, although by implication, since the existing Republican system does stem from a system of local elections, I think they’d have an excellent case. And it’s very possible, depending on the circumstances, that the Greens would seek to piggyback on that.

  3. Jim Riley

    The basic function of a political party under Illinois law is to nominate candidates in primary elections. The basic function of the various party committees is to nominate candidates in cases of nomination vacancies. In performing that role, the voting strength of each member is based on the number of votes cast in the party primary in the jurisdiction he represents. Effectively, nomination vacancies are filled by indirect primary.

    The State committee has the vacancy-filling authority for statewide offices. I see no reason why it need be treated any different than local committees. The party is free to develop an independent organizational structure for other functions.

  4. NE

    This type of law would be very bad for smaller parties, because it would make it easy for them to be hijacked by outside groups.

  5. Jim Riley

    #4 Why would anyone bother?

  6. When California was using its blanket primary, there were several party primaries for the state assembly in which non-members outvoted party members.

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