Top Illinois Republican urges GOP to move on from Trump

“It’s time to move on and focus on winning in the fall of 2024,” Illinois National Committeeman Richard Porter told the Sun-Times.

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Former president and 2024 presidential hopeful Donald Trump arrives to speak at the Turning Point Action USA conference in West Palm Beach, Florida, on July 15, 2023.

Former president and 2024 presidential hopeful Donald Trump arrives to speak at the Turning Point Action USA conference in West Palm Beach, Florida, earlier this month.

AFP via Getty Images

WASHINGTON — An influential Illinois Republican is urging Republicans to break from ex-President Donald Trump, the current front runner for the 2024 GOP nomination.

Richard Porter, a local and national party leader, took his first public stand about moving on from Trump in a column published Wednesday by Real Clear Politics.

His speaking out is significant because so many local and national Republicans are remaining silent, declining to voice their reservations about Trump, even as Trump, facing pending and potential criminal indictments remains popular with his base and often extracts retribution on critics.

“The tragedy of Trump is that he’s more peevish than principled,” wrote Porter, an Illinois National Committeeman on the Republican National Committee.

“Consequently, he is easily baited by his opponents into distracting fights over petty matters. How else can one explain his current predicament and the danger he presents to our principles?

“His enemies don’t even hide their designs. Democrats lay traps in plain sight, and the muscle head of U.S. politics walks right into them, time after time. True, he rallies his MAGA loyalists with each fight, no matter how ill-conceived. Most Republicans who are not Trump haters watch his travails with admiration and morbid fear: Can the old lion escape the jackals yet again?

“But, a criminal trial brought by the Deep State over moldy documents that Trump just could not bring himself to return is scheduled for the end of the presidential primary season. Republicans have to ask: Is this trial a struggle over the future of freedom in this country? Or just collateral damage from Trump’s inability to skip a fight?”

Porter warns “there’s still more to come in les travails de Trump,” noting that he may face criminal indictments from Special Counsel Jack Smith and in Georgia.

“There were irregularities and none of this is fair, I hear fellow Trumplicans declare! His fight is our fight! But is it really?

“Or is Trump just a vain old guy who’s easily egged into pointless bar fights that end up undermining our ability to win the broader war for our nation’s future?

“Note all the polls showing Trump losing to Biden.”

A veteran of the Bush/Quayle White House — and a one-time New Trier Township precinct captain, Porter was first elected to be one of the Illinois members of the Republican National Committee in 2014. Porter has been part of many national, state and local campaigns for decades — and has been on the finance committee for past GOP presidential nominees.

In a Sun-Times interview, Porter said he is supporting — and doing fundraising for — 2024 GOP presidential contender Ron DeSantis, the Florida governor.

“It’s time to move on and focus on winning in the fall of 2024,” Porter told the Sun-Times.

While Trump’s indictments “rally the troops around him,” Porter made this point in the interview: “You can be unhappy with how the Democrats conduct themselves when they have power and how they are using power to pursue political opponents, and at the same time think that there are other people who can better handle that situation than Trump.”

The Illinois Republican Party, before the rise of Trumpism, often was led and funded by mainstream moderates and conservatives — based in the Chicago area — who were part of the GOP state “establishment.”

Now the party in Illinois, Porter said, is “very grassroots. It is not a suburban Country Club party. It is a small town, farmer, small business, the trades. … it is not the same party it was 30 years ago. There’s been a shift. It’s more Downstate than it was upstate.”

Concluded Porter in his Real Clear Politics column: “We have terrific candidates who share our views. … Each of these candidates would match up well against President Biden in a general election. But a candidate must secure the nomination to run in November 2024, and doing so means breaking Trump’s hold on the Republican base.”

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