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Joe Walsh to skip Illinois GOP presidential primary

Walsh spokesman Charles Siler said the decision was made to allocate scarce resources in other states, especially Iowa and New Hampshire — the states with the first 2020 votes in February.

Joe Walsh
Former U.S. Rep. Joe Walsh in 2018
Ashlee Rezin/Sun-Times

WASHINGTON – GOP presidential hopeful Joe Walsh, a former suburban Chicago House member, will not be on the March Illinois primary ballot, his spokesman told the Chicago Sun-Times on Friday, shrinking an already narrow sliver of a path he has to defeat President Donald Trump.

Walsh spokesman Charles Siler said Walsh was “heartbroken” to skip home state Illinois with the decision made to allocate scarce resources in other states, especially Iowa and New Hampshire, the states with the first 2020 votes in February.

“It’s the strategy that we have to take to stay viable,” Siler said.

The Trump campaign filed petitions for the president and delegates with the Illinois State Board of Elections on Thursday, with GOP Illinois Reps. Darin LaHood and Mike Bost on hand as well as the chairman of the Illinois Republican Party, Tim Schneider.

Friday is the last day in Illinois for presidential candidates and delegate slates for each of the 18 congressional districts in Illinois to file for the March 17 primary.

A presidential candidate needed to file between 3,000 and 5,000 signatures to qualify. That Walsh, a Mundelein resident, could not even muster the resources for a volunteer driven effort to get on the Illinois ballot shows how weak his campaign organization is on home turf.

“He’s devastated by it. He loves he loves Illinois and he loves representing his constituents and wants to give Republicans in Illinois a choice and a voice,” Siler said.

Siler added, “We’ve been focusing on early states like Iowa. We have a big team in Iowa. We have a team in New Hampshire. And part of it is that we have to convince a lot of the Republican donors that there is a viable option and they’re going to want to see results before they put money into our organization.”

Even if Walsh were to do well enough to spur contributions, he could not leverage it in Illinois because he will not be on the ballot.

Illinois Republicans will send 54 elected delegates to the nominating convention in Charlotte, N.C. this August — three from each of the 18 Illinois congressional districts. Another 111 at-large delegates will be selected at a June state party convention in Peoria.

A Tea Party Republican elected in 2010 — only to be defeated two years later for the suburban House seat by Tammy Duckworth, now the junior senator from Illinois – Walsh went on to become a talk radio host known for his incendiary rhetoric.

Once a Trump supporter, Walsh this summer jumped in the primary calling Trump a “danger to the country” and an “unfit con man,” messages that have propelled his uphill run.