Republicans gather for Fall Victory Dinner

Monroe County Republican Central Commitee Chairman Myron Neff (left) presents a plaque to Franklin Kohler honoring him for many years of dedicated service to the Republican party. (Corey Saathoff photo)

The Monroe County Republican Central Committee hosted its annual Fall Victory Dinner at Turner Hall in Columbia on Thursday night, with candidates for various state and local offices and guest speakers doing their best to energize the party.

Republican candidates for Illinois governor, Dan Rutherford and Bill Brady, made campaign speeches ahead of their face-off in the March primary. Rutherford, the state treasurer, said he is the only gubernatorial candidate in his party who has won a statewide election.

“I can win the race for governor,” he said. “I’ve proven it.”

Brady, a state senator, said the election is about pension reform, paying unpaid state bills and taking on the Chicago machine.

“We can build a brighter state,” he said. “We have to give the people something they can believe in.”

Though he wasn’t in attendance, fellow Republican gubernatorial candidate Kirk Dillard prepared a statement about his campaign that was read at the dinner.

Prior to local candidates speaking at the podium, the committee presented past Monroe County Board member Franklin Kohler of Hecker with a plaque in honor of his many years of dedicated service to the Republican party. Kohler was seeking signatures from attendees at the dinner on a candidate petition to run for county commissioner in the upcoming primary.

Joy Schrieber sings “God Bless America.”

If Kohler would file for commissioner, he would face Bob Elmore in the primary.

“I’m in it to win in,” Elmore said in his speech.

Republican candidates for Monroe County Sheriff, Neal Rohlfing and Joe Brauer, touted their experience. Brauer said he plans to build on retiring sheriff Dan Kelley’s successes and “learn from his mistakes.” Rohlfing said he plans to introduce new ideas to the position and will work hard to combat the growing drug problem.

“The idea of ‘it’s not going to happen here’ won’t work anymore,” he said.

Waterloo resident Paul Schimpf, a Republican candidate for Illinois Attorney General, said he is going to “fight for every vote in the state.”

When comparing his experience and qualifications to that of incumbent Democrat Lisa Madigan, Schmipf asked the partisan crowd, “Who do you trust?”

Other Republican county office holders, county treasurer Kevin Koenigstein, county assessor Carl Wuertz and county clerk Dennis Knobloch, also made brief speeches.

Guest speaker Pastor Ralph Brandon provided a brief humorous break from the seriousness of politics, giving his “down home” perspective on everyday life. His comedy routine ended on a reflective note, however, after telling a funny story about his back being out of alignment.

He told those gathered to make sure they are not out of alignment with the priorities in life: God, family and country.

Closing the event was featured speaker Joe Walsh, a former U.S. representative who currently hosts a radio show.

Calling current Illinois Governor Pat Quinn an “irrelevant tool” who “has no idea what’s going on,” Walsh said one of the Republican candidates has to unseat the incumbent Democrat next November.

Walsh said Republicans have let the Democrats ruin this state, and that “we live in the most corrupt state in the country.”

Waterloo resident Joy Schrieber led the gathering in singing “God Bless America” to close the night.

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