Breakfast club proves Reagan still finding ways to dish on Democrats
What began as a small coffee meeting has become something of a conservative powerhouse in a primarily Democratic state.
The Ronald Reagan Breakfast Club began nine years ago with a simple decision to have political discussions over a cup of coffee with like-minded Republican friends, according to Bill Long, one of the founders.
“We would chat awhile, and we would decide some things that we thought were shortcomings of the party in the area of a political nature, and we would take them back to the central committee once in a while and share it with them,” Long told Rock Island Today.
Long explained the the group has no officers or agenda and “refer to ourselves as the largest unorganized gathering of conservatives that meets weekly in the state of Illinois.”
Over the past few years the group has become more and more active – and influential – on local and state politics.
“We have defeated tax increases four different times by organizing," Long said. "We will pass the hat and get some signs made, and we will put the signs up, and we will talk to people. When they want a tax increase, we knock it out. We beat them four out of five times.”
The group also was an early backer of Gov. Bruce Rauner when he became a candidate.
“We were the first place he came when he came into Rock Island County and western Illinois to seek help," Long said. "He came to our breakfast club four times before the election. Rock Island County carried him, and so did a lot of others.”
A research paper by the Paul Simon Institute argues that while the GOP and Democrats have been fairly equally matched through history in Illinois, the left has been in control of late.
“After the 2002 Democratic sweep, there was much political commentary about how the Republicans were facing hard times in Illinois and entering a rebuilding era," the report says. "Then in 2006 the plight of the Republicans got even worse.”
With most meetings drawing approximately 25 people, Long said the group is proud of what it has accomplished so far.
“Whenever we get a chance, we let them know that we are proud of be Republicans in a Democratic district, and we are not ashamed of it," he said. “It is a political battle, but it is a lot of fun. We think it is paying off.”
The group meets at 9 a.m. on Wednesdays at the City Limits Saloon. Everyone is invited to attend.
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