'Game of subtraction': Illinois GOP reeling after chairman's resignation

A very divided party will have to come together by July 19th to pick a successor to Chairman Don Tracy, who announced Wednesday he is resigning.

There is a real division between a downstate, more "MAGA" wing of the party and a more establishment wing - and for now, the establishment wing has lost. 

In a letter to Illinois Republicans Wednesday, Don Tracy acknowledged the constant fighting that led to his decision.

"In better days," Tracy said, "Illinois Republicans came together after tough intra-party elections, but now it seems that agreeing 80% of the time, as President Reagan said, is simply not enough for some who would rather fight each other than take on the Democrats." 

Another Republican - former House Minority Leader Jim Durkin - quit for similar reasons. Durkin said the continued rightward direction of the party will cast it further into oblivion.

"It was a combination of Donald Trump and Darren Bailey who were very destructive on our races, and I'm afraid we're not going to be getting anywhere if we have complete homage to Trump and purity on the state platform," Durkin said. "And that's what these people are looking for, and right now the people with the loudest voices are playing the game of subtraction, and that's why you lost Don Tracy."

Durkin said extreme right positions won't get Republicans the seats back that they lost in suburban and collar counties.

They currently hold no statewide constitutional offices and are in super-minority status in the Statehouse - despite a scandal that pushed former Democratic House Speaker Mike Madigan out and has him facing federal bribery charges. 

Cook County's lone Republican elected official, County Commissioner Sean Morrison, acknowledged that Tracy helped the party raise money, although much of that came from Tracy himself.

"He faced continual criticism from members who had different views on how the party should operate," Morrison said.

Durkin said he believes the grassroots elements of the party simply want to cause trouble.

"They don't do anything to help anyone get elected, they don't contribute financially, they're nowhere to be found," Durkin said. "Their bark is worse than their bite, but their bark is getting louder."

Morrison vows that a succession plan will happen in an organized and pragmatic manner.

And the state's Democratic Party wasted no chance to pile on, saying, "Best of luck to the inevitable MAGA extremist who will succeed Don Tracy as chair."