Chicago Young Republicans hopeful, but realistic

August 30, 2012

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Angel Garcia knows what you’re thinking. Republicans in Chicago aren’t going to win elections.

"I don’t care who you are, unless you put millions upon millions of dollars and there’s a scandal on the other side and there’s low voter turnout, it’s very difficult to win," he said.

Garcia should know. He was the Republican challenger to Cook County Clerk David Orr in 2010. Garcia lost, getting just 30 percent of the vote. But this week at the convention, Garcia is among friends.

"You wear a Ronald Reagan t shirt and everyone gives you a high five instead of a dirty look," he said. "It really is the Twilight Zone here, but it’s a good thing."

Now the 37-year-old attorney is a delegate for Mitt Romney and the president of Chicago Young Republicans. I caught up with him while he was at the hotel restaurant, eating steak and eggs - for lunch.

Even though he’s a late sleeper, Garcia has been spending his waking hours in Tampa this week working out, hitting the beach, and doing interviews.

"It actually is easier for us as Chicago Young Republicans or Cook County voters, to put a Republican governor in the office than it is to win two aldermanic offices," he said.

Basically, Garcia said if he can get a few more Chicagoans to vote Republican, it will help the party statewide. And the way to do that, is to play to the strengths of young professionals who already lean to the right.

Garcia said his organization accepts Republicans of all stripes, regardless of what they think of social issues. But he admits moderates do best in Illinois.

And those with more experience in politics agree. At the convention Wednesday night, a little before Paul Ryan bragged about the rock music on his iPod, former Illinois Gov. Jim Edgar said young Republicans are important because they can be more flexible on social issues.

"I think sometimes young people, they bring different points of view and maybe are better at that than some old timers who get kinda stuck in their ways of doing things," Edgar said. 

And that new blood, Edgar said, is the key to the future of the Republican Party in Illinois.