Illinois Republicans from far and wide are flooding the this weekend.
Some are showing to participate in workshops, vote on party issues and elect committeemen and women. Others simply want to learn about the political process or to experience their first convention. Coordinators have said they expect several thousand people to file in and out of the center during these two days—the most of whom are expected to congregate there on Saturday.
Patch editors spent time chatting with those eager Illinois Republican Convention attendees throughout the day Friday.
Norma Goodale, 67, came all the way up from Peoria County in central Illinois because of the election year and the opportunity this presents for Republicans on both the state and national level.
“It’s a very exciting year,” Goodale said. “And we want to elect some Republicans.”
The made everything “topsy-turvy” and split many areas, Goodale said. She noted that many local Republicans in her area had to start from scratch and some, like herself, are at the convention to learn what they can do for the coming campaigns.
While Lori Eggerton, 47, wants to learn how she can help, she said she didn't just drive to for "business."
"It's party time!" said the Quincy resident, with a laugh. "We share ideals so there's no reason we can't share ideas. We need to make our party the best that it can be. That means there's some work to do, but who says work can't be fun?"
A newcomer to politics, Farhaan Shaikh, 22, from Glendale Heights in DuPage County, said he considers himself “fiercely independent” and came to the convention center to gain experience.
“I wanted to come see what a political convention is like,” he said.
Martin Weiss, a 25-year-old teacher from Madison County, said he became interested in becoming a delegate for the convention after he was emailed by Ron Paul’s campaign. The campaign e-mail urged supporters to ask about open delegate spots.
“He kind of restored my faith in the idea that there can be honest politics,” Weiss said.
Tinley Park Patch Editor Carrie Frillman contributed to this report.