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McLean County Dems Tout Huge Growth In 2018

a wall of campaign signs.
Charlie Schlenker
In the last year, McLean County Democrats said they have added hundreds of volunteers, a new permanent party headquarters, and much more.

A year ago, Erik Rankin took over as Chair of the McLean County Democratic Party. In that time, Democrats have added County Board seats, elected city council members that have party values and built party infrastructure. 
Rankin Thursday gave his state of the party address at the newly opened permanent party headquarters.

Rankin said not only was there record fundraising of more than $130,000, but the number of precinct committee members went from the low 40s to nearly 100.

"This is how we build a party. Start at the ground level. And this ground level for all of the candidates that ran, they will tell you having those precinct committee people made their job easier. Someone was there to help them," said Rankin.  

A picture of Erik Rankin backed by a blue vinyl panel with party logos.
Credit Charlie Schlenker / WGLT
McLean County Democratic Party Chair Erik Rankin addressed party members Thursday at their headquarters in downtown Bloomington.

In fact, Rankin said for the first time in history McLean County Democrats had more precinct committee people than Republicans did.

Rankin said the Democratic Party also put a lot of effort into improving its data collection on voters.

Rankin acknowledged the possibility volunteers who became active after the 2016 election as a measure of opposition to President Trump could become burned out by 3 1/2 years of intense activity. But, he said that has not happened yet.

"We are still getting people walking in the door, two to three a week, who want to become involved, who say I want to help, what can I do?" said Rankin.

He said there has been no drop off in volunteer enthusiasm and the nature of next year's presidential election will only help Democratic turnout.

Rankin said he hopes next year Democrats will take control of the McLean County Board for the first time in history. He said Republicans have more seats to defend than Democrats and he said he wants to compete in every district, even the ones that demographically favor the GOP.

Rankin said Republicans should not get a free pass to office.

Listen to Erik Rankin's entire speech to McLean County Democrats.

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WGLT Senior Reporter Charlie Schlenker has spent more than three award-winning decades in radio. He lives in Normal with his family.