These were my prepared remarks for the 2015 TEA Party Tax Day Rally in St. Charles on April 15, 2015. The event ran long, so I had to shorten them considerably. Here's what I had planned to say.
Thank you, Denise. For those of you that don’t know me, my name is Paul Schimpf and I was the 2014 Republican candidate for Illinois Attorney General.
I want to start off by saying “thank you” to all of you in this room that worked hard for me last fall. I wish I could have brought home a win for you, but I am proud of the campaign that we ran.
You should be proud of what we accomplished, as well. In July of 2013, I started the campaign with nothing: 2 volunteers, 1 campaign website, and 0 donors. We never had much in the way of money. Instead, we had a motivated core of volunteers who donated blood, sweat, and tears to deliver a simple message:
“Government corruption is killing Illinois and the political class is not capable of solving that problem.”
So how strong was that message? Well, with practically no money, our campaign still won 68 out of 102 counties in Illinois.
To be fair, some of you are thinking, “What’s the big deal? Pat Quinn only needed to win 2 out of 102 counties to win the state in 2010.”
Well, I wasn’t running against Pat Quinn—I was taking on the Madigan Family. Going into the 2014 campaign, Lisa Madigan had the highest favorability rating of any Illinois politician. She had swept nearly the entire state two elections in a row.
Despite all that, we were still able to win wherever we got our message out. And that was because nobody—whether they were conservative, progressive, or ambivalent, it didn’t matter which—nobody, could argue with the basic elements of our message.
But that is water under the bridge—I want to talk about the present.
Right now, I’m re-learning how to be a general practice attorney in Southern Illinois. Shockingly, there’s not a lot of transfer over from the Saddam Trial and law in the Marine Corps to handling traffic cases. But it’s fun.
But the best thing about post-election is that I have more time to spend with the family. Lori and I have two little boys who are 7 and 9. Those are great ages. We’ve got a site picked out for a treehouse that we will start building this summer. I get to read to my boys every night before bed.
One of the lessons that I’m trying to teach my boys is something that our military veterans have also learned from experience.
That lesson is this. Your reward for completing a mission or accomplishing a difficult task is not to be taken off the front lines or given the afternoon off to play the Xbox. Your reward is to be given a more difficult mission.
That applies to all of us.
We did an amazing thing last fall. We got a Republican elected the governor of Illinois. That victory wouldn’t have happened without the hard work of people in this room.
But that victory doesn’t mean we get to take ourselves out of the game. That doesn’t mean we get to leave the rest of the fighting to others. We have to do more. If we want to turn our state around, we need more than just a Republican governor.
We will not turn our state around unless we get a handle on government corruption. That point is important enough that I’m going to say it again. Illinois will not recover from its death spiral until we tackle the problem of institutionalized government corruption. And our corruption problem is not going to go away if we pretend it doesn’t exist or focus on other things.
We’ve all heard the phrase: justice delayed is justice denied. I’m going to give you a new phrase today:
Corruption ignored is corruption enabled.
On Tax Day, it is especially appropriate to discuss government corruption. Government corruption costs the state of Illinois over $10B a year. That can go a long way to resolving our budget shortfall.
In order to address corruption, we need more than a focus on unions. We need across the board institutional reforms and we need the Illinois Attorney General’s office to prioritize anti-corruption activity.
We can’t rely on our political class to solve this problem. Unfortunately, the solution they specialize in is “more of the same.” It is up to us and the question is, “Are you going to stay in the fight?”
Many of you heard me speak during the last campaign. If you did, you probably remember me saying that when I hung up my Marine Corps uniform for the final time, it didn’t change who I am.
In that vein, folks, losing an election doesn’t change who I am, either. I still believe we have a duty to serve our country, our state, and our community.
I am asking you today to keep serving and stay in the fight.
I’m going to close by sharing a little known fact with you. It’s from my days as an infantry officer. It has to do with why our military fights. People volunteer to serve because of patriotism, but when the bullets are actually impacting the ground around you, patriotism is not why people keep fighting.
People fight for their friends who are in the foxhole next to them.
My friends, you fought alongside me. You gave me your time, your trust, and your tears. You believed in me when the party leadership didn’t.
I’m going to make you a promise today. If you stay in this fight, I will stay in it with you.
And if we fight smart, and if we fight proud, and if we continue to fight with the same tenacity we have shown in the past, we will turn our state around.
Thank you for coming today and God bless you all.