Shortly after helping to nominate President Donald Trump for a second term in Charlotte, N.C., two top Illinois Republican leaders on Monday embraced the commander-in-chief’s favorite Chicago trash-talking point.
Illinois Republican Party Chair Tim Schneider and Richard Porter, a Republican National Committeeman from Illinois, predicted Trump could carry the deep blue state come November because of the “lawlessness in Chicago.”
But underscoring the uphill battle Trump faces in Illinois, on the same day the state party chair cast the Illinois delegation’s 67 votes for Trump on the first day of the Republican National Convention, the state’s most popular living former Republican governor dubbed the Trump presidency a “near disaster” and announced he is backing Democrat Joe Biden.
In a livestream Monday afternoon, Schneider said “we need to make Illinois Republican again.”
He pointed to looting that has roiled the city in recent months, as well as the heavy security presence around Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s home while “terrible crimes and murders and shootings” happen in the city as reasons why the state should swing to the right.
“So, we can institute policies that are positive for the people of Illinois, to keep people from leaving our state,” Schneider said. “Or, as I always say, we’re going to need a wall around Illinois just to keep people in.”
Schneider said Lightfoot has barricaded four blocks in her neighborhood but she hasn’t protected “our downtown and our Loop and our Magnificent Mile.”
Bashing Chicago and its crime problem has been in heavy rotation on Trump’s play list since he first ran four years ago. He’s called it “out of control,” comparing the city to Afghanistan and threatened to send in the feds to restore order. Just last month, he told Fox News Host Sean Hannity “we’re going to have to do something” about crime in Chicago.
Schneider and Porter reflected on the Trump campaign and his prospects for a second term shortly after Trump accepted his party’s nomination for president in Charlotte.
Schneider “proudly” cast Illinois’ votes for Trump in a traditional roll at the convention Monday morning and later lauded the president for running “a great economy.”
Former Gov. Jim Edgar has a different take on Trump.
The state’s 38th governor, serving from 1991 until January of 1999, Edgar told the Chicago Sun-Times he would be voting for Biden because he thinks “the last four years have been a near disaster.”
“I don’t think Trump’s been that good of a president,” said Edgar, a moderate downstate Republican who portrayed his voting decision as putting country over politics. “I think he’s been divisive ... Some of it is character. He’s a bully, and I don’t think that’s a good trait for a president.”
Edgar’s endorsement comes after former Rep. Ray LaHood, R-Ill, said he would also back Biden. LaHood served as former President Barack Obama’s Transportation Secretary. His son, Rep. Darin LaHood, R-Ill., is an enthusiastic Trump supporter, serving as an Illinois co-chair of Trump’s re-election campaign.
A win in Illinois could be a long shot for Trump, given the state’s affinity for electing Democrats over the past few years. Democrats control all six elected statewide constitutional offices, 13 of Illinois’ 18 congressional seats and both seats in the U.S. Senate. Democrats also hold supermajorities in both chambers of the state Legislature.
Mary Morrissey, the executive director of the Democratic Party of Illinois, said Schneider’s statement about Chicago’s crime leading to a Trump victory is “ludicrous.”
“Trump and the GOP are trying to distract from the chaos they have created in our country – 175,000 lives lost to COVID-19, an economy in shambles and four years of Trump fanning the flames of hatred and division,” Morrissey said in a statement. “Illinoisans are hungry for real leadership to get them out of this very dark time created by Trump and the GOP. Joe Biden is the right person for the job.”