State GOP meets in Tinley Park; looking for ‘rallying point’
By Mike Nolan email@example.com June 8, 2012 10:54PM
Aaron B. Del Mar, Chairman Cook County Republican Party, playfully poses for a photo with a card board cut out of President Barack Obama at the Illinois Republican Convention at the Tinley Park Convention Center in Tinley Park, Illinois, Friday, June 8, 2012. | Joseph P. Meier~Sun-Times Media
Updated: July 11, 2012 10:14AM
Standing next to a display of elephant-shaped pins for sale inside the Tinley Park Convention Center, Marilee Morgan explained that while she grew up with Democrats for parents, she’s been making jewelry to support Republican candidates the past four decades.
“It was promotional jewelry for Richard Nixon’s presidential campaign,” she said of her first fundraising foray.
Since then, she and her husband, Robert, have worked to rally support for candidates such as U.S. Sen. Mark Kirk and make the rounds of GOP events, such as the Illinois Republican Convention this weekend in Tinley Park.
More than 2,000 people were expected to attend the three-day convention, which features training sessions such as how to mine a database of voter information. Delegates will vote on the party’s platform and pick a national committeeman and committeewoman.
It’s the first time in several years the Republicans have opted to hold their convention in the Chicago area. The events in 2008 and 2004 took place in downstate cities with stronger Republican bases.
Morgan said she’d like for her 12-karat gold-filled pins to be a “rallying point” for state Republicans.
“We need to get out there and get the message out, and we hope our pins will help with that,” she said.
For Republicans to be successful, particularly in Cook County, they need to emulate the New York Yankees, insists Aaron Del Mar, newly elected chairman of the Cook County Republican Party.
“Their (Yankees) feeder program is strong and that’s why they’re successful, and we need the same thing in Cook County,” Del Mar said Friday as the convention was getting under way. “We need to get a younger group involved and groomed.”
Describing himself as “the new look of the Republican Party,” the 33-year-old Del Mar said he’s the county GOP’s first minority president — an “American-Filipino,” he said — and represents a more technology-savvy group of pols. Del Mar is Palatine Township Republican committeeman and has a seat on Palatine’s village board.
A training session on using social media was among the convention’s offerings, and Del Mar said Republican candidates statewide are become more adept at using Facebook, Twitter and other tools to spread their message. He said “Cook County is going to be the tip of the spear” for the party as far as deploying social media strategies.
Near where Morgan was selling her pins, Donna Merrill offered conventioneers a special deal on a book, “The American Ideas,” which she called “a tool that conservatives could use to give to liberals” to sway their way of thinking. Merrill said she read the book about nine months ago, then passed it along to a friend she described as “very liberal and pro-Obama.”
After reading the book, Merrill said her friend has undergone a transformation and now “sees how his (Obama’s) very policies are deteriorating the very foundation of our country.”
Merrill, who lives in Kansas City, Kan., said she’s been spending her weekends going to state GOP conventions around the country to promote the book. She said she’ll spend the rest of the summer doing that and doesn’t get paid for her efforts.
“I’m not getting a commission” from book sales, she said. “I am motivated to do this for my country.”