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Chuck Erickson Won't Seek Re-Election As Republican Party Chairman

Chuck Erickson closeup
Ralph Weisheit
McLean County Board member and Republican Party chairman Chuck Erickson during a meeting.

McLean County Republican Party chairman Chuck Erickson announced Tuesday he won’t be seeking re-election to that post, leaving the local GOP with new leadership heading into a tough 2018 election cycle with many contested races.

Erickson said “this election cycle is too critical for anything less than a chairman who can give 110 percent.” Erickson is also a McLean County Board member and practicing lawyer.

“Unless one has done so, no one knows the time commitment required of a party chairman,” Erickson said in a statement.

Erickson was first elected as party chairman in 2014, succeeding John Parrott. For the past four years, Erickson has held dual roles as both GOP chair and a sitting McLean County Board member. Erickson said he’ll continue serving the party’s executive committee as chairman emeritus, a non-voting advisory role.

“I have no regrets and I would trade it for nothing,” Erickson said.

In his statement Tuesday, Erickson touted the party’s accomplishments during his tenure. The GOP holds a 15-to-5 majority on the McLean County Board. Erickson also said the party has grown its treasury. Indeed, the McLean County Republican Central Committee now has around $20,221 in cash on hand as of Dec. 31, state election records show. Four years ago, the party had only $4,859 in its war chest.

“We trained many millennials for party leadership. Eventually the torch will be passed to that generation,” Erickson said.

Erickson became known as an ardent and unapologetic supporter of Republican causes. His self-described “outspoken and unashamed advocacy for Republican principles and value” has occasionally put him at odds with other local Republicans. In August Erickson issued a statement to clarify his remarks on the Republican Party’s Facebook page about President Trump’s infamous “both sides” comment on Charlottesville.

Erickson’s critics also say the line between his dual roles—as an elected official and a party chairman—have at times been too blurry. But those dual roles are not without precedent; House Speaker Mike Madigan has led the Illinois Democratic Party for years.

Erickson has been candid about the 2018 election cycle. During a recent interview with GLT, Erickson said local Republicans needed to work much harder to fight off challengers from energized local Democratic and Libertarian candidates.

“If you’re not ready for it, you’re gonna get mowed over by it,” Erickson said.

It’s unclear who will succeed Erickson as party chair. Erickson said he won’t be endorsing a successor—something he says the party’s bylaws don’t allow for anyway.

The new chairman will be elected during the party convention in April. Erickson said he plans to serve out his term.

“No one was going to run against me. But I needed to let the precinct committeemen know because people were asking,” Erickson said. “I want the grassroots, the precinct committeemen, to decide who will be the next party chairman.”

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Ryan Denham is the content director for WGLT and WCBU.
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