The Northwest Side GOP Club's "We-bellion Bash" fundraiser at its new headquarters was meant to bring in donors to support the organization's activities, but it also attracted a group of detractors.
Over the course of the April 21 evening event at 6122 N. Milwaukee Ave., the club played host to roughly 110 paid members who came to enjoy cocktails and then have sandwiches at the nearby The Garage Bar & Sandwiches.
"We wanted to use the 'We-bellion Bash' to not only raise money but also to introduce the Northwest GOP to the local community," club Chairman Matthew Podgorski said. "We wanted to let people know we are here."
Podgorski said the event was planned as way to build a relationship with the existing conservative and Republican base on Chicago's Northwest side. The group is growing but undeserved by local politicians and state legislators, most of whom are Democrats, he argued.
"There are a lot of Republicans and conservatives in the northwest Chicago area," he said. "We want to let them know we are here to help give them a voice and find representation. We want to let areas conservatives know we are here to help them build a network."
Approximately 40 protesters also came to the event, including 39th Ward Democratic Committeeman Robert Murphy and representatives of the Service Employees International Union, the Chicago Teachers Union and Gladstone Park Huddle, according to Nadig Newspapers.
Podgorski said the demonstrators were primarily upset about a talk by Joe Walsh, a radio talk show host and former congressman.
"We had a pretty big group of protesters," he said. "But I would call them opportunists who are threatened by anyone who disagrees with their values."
Podgorski said the protests won't affect the group.
"We're going to make plans to keep raising money and to get organized to run conservative candidates in upcoming local elections," he said.
The Northwest Side GOP Club plans to host another event on June 14 to celebrate Flag Day and President Donald Trump's birthday.