It may be cold in Wisconsin these days, but things are clearly warming up in Dane county because they are fired up. In a seismic change of leadership, the Republican Party of Dane county (RPDC) is now set to move on a different trajectory.
A few weeks ago I wrote a column about Brandon Maly and his challenge to long time RPDC Chairman, Scott Grabins. In his original announcement, Maly had a simple message, ‘As chairman of the RPDC my goal will be to make the the reason we win elections not the reason we lose them.’
Well the message resonated, and at the Dane County Caucus, a shockwave was felt throughout the room and history was made. Brandon Maly, and all of Team Brandon were able to prevail over their opponent.
This was historic, not because they won, but because Team Brandon absolutely worked their tails off and energized their base to take action with unprecedented numbers. This caucus had the largest turnout in RPDC history, and the very well organized Team Brandon was able to empower HUNDREDS of new members to come take over control of RPDC.
To give you an idea of how decisive this really was, here are the numbers for Chair and Vice-chair:
CHAIRMAN: Maly 275 – Grabins 133
VICE-CHAIRMAN: Illgen 290 – Lindgren 116
I am not writing this to gloat, but to point out that people really wanted to change the RPDC trajectory, but nobody listened to them…until now. I hope leaders throughout the party learn from this, LISTEN TO YOUR PEOPLE!
Several members were amazed with how the energy in the room was absolutely contagious, and that Vice-Chair candidate, Chrissi Illgen had the best speech of the day that ‘absolutely lit the room on fire.’
I reached out and asked her for a copy because I was going to throw in a few quotes from the speech, but the speech was just so good, that I am sharing the whole thing below. Read it, it’s nothing short of amazing and we could all learn something from it. Trust me, read it!
In the end, it’s great to see such an energized RPDC. In a county like Dane, this was nothing short of miraculous. Dare I say it? LET’S GO BRANDON!
Now the real work begins.
As I wrote a few days ago, the two Conservative Supreme Court candidates combined for a pathetic 17% of the vote in Dane County. This was even lower than the absolutely horrific numbers last November and over the past few years. Yes, I get that Ron Johnson won, but it was BARELY, and against the most inept Democrats Candidate in Wisconsin history.
Simply put, we WILL NOT win statewide elections with numbers that low. I am not delusional enough to think that will change overnight, or even in the few short weeks before Spring Election Day. It will take time, but first, we need to stop the bleeding before we can begin to heal the wound.
Even if they can affect a gain of a couple of percentage points in April, this could translate into thousands of votes in favor of Dan Kelly.
I recognize these are all volunteer positions and the outgoing leadership team has dedicated plenty of their time and talents over the years. Thank you for that. I hope it continues, because the fight for Liberty never ends. Supreme Court Candidate Jennifer Dorow showed us all what it means to concede with class, grace and a uniting message.
I am cautiously optimistic though. Team Brandon worked tirelessly to affect a seismic change in direction in Dane. If they manage elections like they managed the RPDC takeover, we should be in great shape moving forward. This is no longer Team Brandon, it is now Team Dane! Heck, let’s be real, it’s TEAM WISCONSIN!
They have shown us all the time, dedications and work it takes to win. We can do this! Transparency, engagement and fundraising will be paramount in this endeavor.
I expect the hundreds of new members who showed up to vote at Caucus will continue to work hard and support the efforts of winning again! I know for sure, people around the state stand ready to assist in any way we can.
LET”S GO Br…um…TEAM WISCONSIN!
CHRISSI IllGEN’S SPEECH
I spoke with Eric Toney at a Pints and Politics once and I asked him how he became so comfortable speaking in public because he does it so well. He said that it takes practice but just start with the truth. So here goes.
I am the daughter of Polish immigrants – my mother came to the US as a refugee and my father came to the US alone with an empty suitcase and a 5 dollar bill. My dad worked 2-3 jobs to care for the family, attend school, and eventually become a designer of particle accelerators for national labs here in the states and overseas. That is what my dad achieved with a 5 dollar bill and the American Dream.
I attended the University of Notre Dame where I studied electrical engineering because it was the hardest major I could find. After my MS at Notre Dame, I had the unique opportunity to do work designing automation to optimize sequencing throughput for the Human Genome Project at MIT. The tech boom was just beginning and the job opportunities were various and lucrative so I took a job at a small tech startup in Cambridge, MA, where I wrote proposals for funding from the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency and honed my skills as a software engineer coding prototypes for aircraft control systems and battlefield situational awareness. I was recruited by yet another tech firm and wrote more code and designed the entire training curriculum for what would arguably become the best supply chain software available in the world at the time.
It took me all that time to figure out that I probably should have been a veterinarian but whatever.
My husband and I moved to Madison in 2000 with our 1 year old in tow. A year later we had son # 2, in order, not in preference. Somehow between then and now, I cultivated some unique hobbies to satisfy my craving for accomplishment. I am best in support mode. If I am given someone’s vision or set of blueprints, I become 100% committed to execute and complete. About 5 years ago, I literally knocked on the door of a UW Professor, whose work I followed closely, and told him I would like to help him with his research… for free. For over a year I did bench work in his lab at the UW Microbial Sciences Center. And it was great.
I’ve done a lot of volunteering. A lot. I won’t bore you with more details but I will tell you how I have operated in the background as a Conservative activist.
My first positive experience as a Republican in Dane County was meeting the late Nancy Bartlett in 2009. I helped her with some silent auction fundraisers and through her I met Ron Johnson. In 2010 I held a fundraiser at my home for Chad Lee in his first run for Congress. It was very well attended and I know some of you were there – thank you for your support.
A little over 2 years ago, in partnership with Nancy and the Republican Women’s group, I helped with two “Back the Blue” caravans to provide a needed morale boost. I know many of you participated – again, thank you for your support.
More recently, I organized a medical freedom event downtown featuring Ron Johnson, Drs. Pierre Kory and Paul Marik. This was a very well attended event – by both Republicans and Democrats – a sign that there is some common ground in Dane County.
I helped organize the “Moving WI to the Right: Candidate Forum” which was designed for voters to meet with GOP candidates for FEDERAL and STATEWIDE offices and discuss key issues impacting WISCONSIN.
I was an integral part in recruiting table sponsors for the successful Lincoln Reagan Day Dinner this past August.
The Modern Curriculum and the Future of Education was an informative session I helped organize which alerted parents to the theories of race and gender metastasizing to primary, intermediate, and secondary education.
I helped plan and organize the first RPDC/Turning Point Action candidate and activist training event in Madison. Turning Point Action helped by connecting us with nationally known experts in the fields of fundraising, donor relations, and campaign management. Turning Point Action is an incredible organization. Their forte is outreach to young Conservatives. Being that GenZ is the fastest growing voter block, we need organizations like Turning Point Action to help us save kids from the left.
Lastly, I currently serve as Co-Chair of the Public Policy Committee for RPDC.
I am asking for your vote. It is no secret that I whole-heartedly support Brandon so I ask you to vote for him as well. There is really only one path to achieving 30% total Republican votes in Dane County. I believe our platform provides the blueprint. It for sure isn’t the path we are on now. Our Supreme Court candidates received a combined total of 17.4% in the primary. This is an abysmal new low for Dane county. Let me repeat that. This is an abysmal new low for Dane County.
Everyday I have a small goal – I challenge myself to do something uncomfortable. Let me tell you, this is it for me today. Do something everyday that makes you uncomfortable. If you are wondering what that little something is for you, I will give you a hint: you are a Republican in Dane County. Hang an American flag. Put up a Dan Kelly yard sign. Talk to a left-leaning friend about how disgusted you are about drag shows for toddlers. You have myriad opportunities to do something uncomfortable. If we continue to grow the RPDC membership and we all commit to being uncomfortable yet unabashedly Conservative everyday, we can begin to loosen the stranglehold liberal ideology has on Dane County. It doesn’t get more grassroots than this.
If discussing gender-affirming surgery is a little too uncomfortable for you, let me tell you what real discomfort looks like. Try being a black male Republican assembly candidate knocking doors, solo, in a neighborhood of white liberals. Mark Pocan, Tammy Baldwin, and the well-traveled Pete Buttegieg come to campaign for your opponent. Your opponent is using money funneled in from out of state to campaign against you. You lack resources to campaign effectively. You may have a couple of volunteers and a few bucks for supplies but you still cannot compete. You need mentorship, strategy, and funding. You need better guidance on using technology and the best voter intel available.
The brutal truth is that we need many donors. My opponent launched an attack on one of Wisconsin’s largest Republican donors. As a sitting member of the RPDC Executive Committee, I would like to formally apologize to that donor. Brandon and I would love to invite you back to repair our relationship and gain back many other donors. We realize that you have had little to no return on your investments. But that’s about to change.
Imagine being one of a handful of college students who are the face of Conservatism on the UW Campus. Talk about discomfort! These kids are fighting a machine. Alone. You may assume their only opposition is groups like Antifa and the College Democratic Socialists. But the 2020 UW Voter Friendly Campus Report outlines the liberal apparatus that has seized the student body on campus. There are professional staff, paid interns, The Andrew Goodman Foundations, League of Women Voters, UW Madison School of Education. Stakeholders such as the office of student affairs, academic departments, the social justice hub, the City of Madison, the City Clerk’s office, and the infamous Zuckerbucks. AND taxpayer funding!
After almost a year on the board, I still hadn’t seen any college republican representation at our meetings. So I decided to reach out. What I found was a group of young patriots with their hands tied by unmet basic needs. They wanted stickers, pizza for outreach, and rides to events and board meetings – they are excited to work with us. Beyond meeting their minimum needs, we need to create a permanent infrastructure on campus that outlasts each graduating class. Grassroots staff could be used to train Conservative campus activists to have a more prominent role. We need to arm them with technology and data. Also, there is no reason the liberal apparatus should have first dibs on incoming freshmen. RPDC needs to be firmly and permanently embedded on campus to show kids they have a choice. As Dane County is to WI, campus is to Dane County. We need those kids.
I share Brandon’s vision for the party moving forward. I and a group of passionate volunteers, activists, former candidates, and donors are asking for your vote. We need your help to grow the Republican Party of Dane County in a way that will effectively reach more voters for the April election coming up, the Presidential election next year, and every Dane County election in the future. Let’s all become comfortable being uncomfortable yet unabashedly Conservative. Together we can break the progressive stranglehold on Dane County and make sure we never see a number like 17.4% ever again.
I am committed to support, execute, and complete.