With taxes continuing to rise, GOP sees increased interest in Northwest Chicago
A groundswell of support among police, firefighters and trade-union members has led to a GOP resurgence on Chicago’s northwest side, according to Matt Podgorski, chair of the Northwest Side Republican Club.
On an Aug. 20 segment of Illinois Rising radio, emceed by Chicago’s Morning Answer host Dan Proft, Podgorski said the uptick in GOP popularity is one the party is attempting to build upon going into the November general election. Proft is a principal at LGIS, owner of this publication.
“We’ve felt for a long time there’s a contingency of right-leaning voters who typically will vote Democrat by a majority but not an overwhelming majority,” he said. “We felt (we should) cultivate some sort of organization to give those folks a home ... and see if we could get enough people to join to make it meaningful.”
But it would be a mistake to trace the Republican rise to President Donald Trump’s coattail effect, Podgorski said, attributing the club’s success on other factors.
“I think in Illinois, in particular, you're seeing crushing taxation,” he said. “A lot of the folks in Chicago live there because they have city jobs, but they’re tired of paying all these taxes.”
The other reason driving Republican growth is social conservatism, which has been masked by decades of being conditioned to vote Democrat, Podgorski said.
“The fact that these people are church-going, God-fearing socially conservative Democrats who see the Democrat party basically ignoring them and moving more toward a San Francisco-type ideology, they’re sick of it,” he explained.
To reach this new group of voters, Podgorski said it is important to have the right leadership, such as committeemen, precinct captains and candidates to take the message to the people.
An example of the type of new Republican candidate is Ammie Kessem, who is running against incumbent state Rep. Robert Martwick (D-Chicago) in the 19th House District. Podgorski said Kessem, a Chicago police officer, came from a Democrat-voting family.
“After she grew up and started paying taxes … she thought the Democratic Party is not for me,” he said. “She fit the mold of what we’re trying to brand out there. She’s the first of many Republican candidates we hope will bring people around to the Republican Party.”