Some Southern Illinois Republicans say State GOP Chairman Timothy Schneider rigged the state central committee elections Wednesday | Youtube
Gov. Bruce Rauner and his hand-picked state GOP Chairman Timothy Schneider are declaring victory in Southern Illinois.
But did they actually win?
State party officials claim Southern Illinois Republicans voted for a new state central committeeman on April 18, replacing the longtime incumbent and former legislator Bob Winchester of Rosiclare with State Sen. Chapin Rose (R-Mahomet).
Bob Winchester served in the Illinois House from 1974-84. | State of Illinois
Rose supports Schneider for another four-year term; Winchester does not.
But county chairmen say an examination of the vote count shows Rose didn't win and that the fix was in. They're promising to challenge what they say are manipulated results.
"Rauner's people showed their true colors yesterday," a source told SE Illinois News. "They're glad to cheat to win."
"This has made us even more bitter"
In the balance is one of 18 spots on the State Republican Party Central Committee, which governs the party and exerts influence up and down the ballot.
On April 18, GOP precinct committeemen voted to elect their county chairmen and the state central committee members, who will convene in May to choose a party chairman.
Schneider recruited Rose to challenge Winchester, a Rauner critic representing Southern IIlinois' 15th Congressional District, which includes 33 counties.
Winchester supported State Rep. Jeanne Ives (R-Wheaton) in the March primary.
“Many of us were already bitter and this has made us even more bitter,” Rhonda Belford, Hardin County GOP chair, told SE Illinois News. “Bob Winchester stood tall for southern Illinois and all of Illinois, and this is how they treat him.”
Belford said that some of her fellow county chairmen were offered financial rewards by Schneider. Others were threatened with retribution if they didn't support Rose over Winchester.
“They know not what they do,” she said. “This is all about money, but it’s the wrong kind of money; and in the end, it’s probably not going to win them the race anyway.”
Winner takes all?
Mark Shaw, State Central Committeeman from Lake County's 10th congressional district, said that he is concerned that some counties may have voted by acclamation, a procedural move that would have given Rose 100 percent of the vote when he may have received just over 50 percent.
Shaw, who grew up in Mt. Carmel in Wabash County, said that voting by acclamation could be a violation of state law and some legal action may be in order.
Results do show that Winchester received zero votes in nine of 33 counties, including four of the 10 most populated, a result that Shaw and others said would be an impossibility.
Several counties, sources tell SE Illinois News, didn't even offer Winchester as a candidate for consideration.
In Fayette County, home to Rauner Downstate Director Randy Pollard, Winchester was not presented as an option, sources say.
"Pollard asked for a voice vote by acclamation for Chapin (Rose) and just moved on," a source said. "He didn't even mention Winchester was a candidate, much less the incumbent."
Rose also received zero votes in 13 counties carried 100 percent by Winchester.
In all, 22 of 33 counties voted by acclamation, representing 63 percent of Rose's vote and 59 percent of Winchester's
County votes are weighted based on their respective turn-out in the March primary.
“There are a lot of irregularities here,” Shaw said. “We want to see the raw data on a precinct level presented to the party.”
The Shimkus Machine
Aides to U.S. Rep. John Shimkus (R-Collinsville) actively recruited Rose to challenge Winchester, offering to help him replace Shimkus in Congress when the opportunity presents itself, sources said.
Sources in Madison County, Shimkus' home, which carries the second-largest weighted vote in the district, say that when they, too, voted by acclamation for Winchester, a lawyer volunteer for Shimkus present protested and said acclamation votes were not legal.
Shimkus' District Director Deb Detmers Fansler told Madison County precinct committee members by phone that a vote by acclamation was not allowed.
Madison County submitted each candidate's vote totals to the state GOP, sources say, along with the caveat that they voted by acclamation to deliver all of them to Winchester, who won 59 percent of the actual vote.
State GOP officials didn't include Madison County's acclamation vote in their official totals; it would have meant Winchester won re-election by 644 votes.
Chicago GOP Chairman Chris Cleveland said he would push to see the actual vote data as well.
"This was a very contentious election, and it's important that we have full transparency in the results,” Cleveland said. “That means complete, precinct-level reporting that we can verify."
How did the 15th Congressional District GOP vote?
Source: Illinois Republican Party