Young Republicans gains membership in Chicago

By SpencerRoush

Young Republicans are breaking their silence and making their move in President Barack Obama’s own blue backyard, causing the Conservative group’s membership and volunteers to increase from last year.

Conservative groups, such as Chicago Young Republicans and Cook County Republicans, have seen a large amount of interest in volunteering and becoming active since the new administration’s proposals.

“We have seen a lot of new faces coming out to the events,” said Lee Roupas, chairman of CCR. “A lot of people [who are] frustrated with the Obama administration are becoming more active.”

Roupas said volunteers and website activity has picked up more than he thought it would and he expects even more interest among college students once schools are back in session. He said newly-converted Republicans have also been attending events and are preparing to campaign at the end of September.

“We are seeing a pretty diverse mix of people,” Roupas said. “We’ve definitely seen a large influx of younger people in college and young professionals in the city of Chicago who are getting involved. Frankly, given the economy, we have some people who have been laid off work and looking for new work, but also wanting to use their time getting involved here at the office.”

Chicago Young Republicans has also seen a drastic increase from 100 members to nearly 800 because of a large marketing campaign that began in June, said Corrine Williams, communications director for CYR. The campaign notified young Conservatives that there is a group dedicated to becoming active Republicans in the city.

“People really didn’t know we existed and now that they know we do, they are thinking about us when it comes to what’s going on in the country,” Williams said. “Living in Chicago, you really think you are the only one around.”

Chicago Young Republicans has made a large effort in its “Dare to be Right in Chicago” campaign, when signs of the slogan were displayed on public transit to raise eyebrows and encourage Republicans to become active political members.

The response to the signs was overwhelming, Williams said. Chicago Young Republicans received numerous e-mails praising them for their campaign efforts.

“We even got e-mails from people who call themselves Democrats and they say, ‘I’m a Democrat, I will always be a Democrat, but I really wanted to let you know that I think your marketing campaign is really neat. I think it’s something that the city needs; some diversity,’” Williams said.

Since the advertisements were placed around Chicago, the membership has grown and Williams said she expects their numbers will keep increasing, even after all the signs are taken down.

“I think [people] are joining out of frustration,” said new CYR member Ken Wooddell, 27. “I think people are tired of seeing the Democrats in the White House and Congress trying to push legislation that the majority of Americans don’t want. [People] feel frustrated and powerless and they are starting to speak up.”

Williams said Chicago Republicans just needed to know there are groups out there for them to join and that there are other people in the city with similar conservative ideals.

Wooddell said he has been interested in politics since he was in college and has always had conservative ideals, but since he moved to Chicago, he has bypassed political conversations because of Chicago’s liberal reputation.

“I was thinking about joining a Republican organization for a while,” Wooddell said. “I saw the ad campaigns [CYR was] running on the el and taxis, so I took a look into it and joined. When you think you are the only one, it is hard to find people to talk to about the issues.”