Thunder and lightning didn't stop Kendall County Republicans from gathering in Yorkville's Town Square Park Saturday afternoon for a campaign rally for area candidates and a chance to show their support for law enforcement and the military.
Oswego resident and Republican precinct committeeman Jason Hudson helped to coordinate and organize the event for the Kendall County chapter of the Republican Party. The rally, he said, was intended to give officers and veterans a moment of recognition.
"We see so many counter protests, shaming our police departments. I wanted to do a rally saying, 'Hey look, we support our police, we support our veterans'," Hudson said. "We all know that all the police aren't bad, they keep us safe and protect us. Yes there are bad apples within the bunch, but the group is really great...more people are good cops than there are bad cops."
Hudson and the Kendall County Republicans did ask that the news of the rally not be publicized in advance. When asked to explain that action, Hudson said that he thought it would be a " good idea to keep this down low."
"The people on the left, they don't really want to come out and have a discussion about this," Hudson said. "Had we had a counter protester here, I would have given them two minutes on the stage.
"The last thing we want is for somebody to come out here and incite any kind of violence or anything like that. We're peaceful. If somebody were to set up across the street from us and have a counter protest and they wanted to come over here and speak, we'll give them two minutes, as long as they're reasonable."
"We all have common grounds," Hudson said. "We all want to raise our kids, we all want to have safe streets, we all hate racism...we all have that in agreement. It's just a matter of coming together and communicating about it."
Several candidates for state and federal office spoke at the rally, touching on points like the COVID-19 pandemic, Black Lives Matter protests, supporting law enforcement and the military, and the 2020 election.
"Battle lines have been clearly drawn," State Senator Jim Oberweis (R-25) told the crowd. Oberweis is running for the position of U.S. Representative against incumbent Lauren Underwood.
Oberweis called a growing movement to defund police departments, "A direct assault on our country and our values."
While Oberweis stated his support for peaceful protests, he acknowledged that "bad actors" have turned the rallies across the country violent.
"The answer to the violent and wrongful death of George Floyd is not more violence," Oberweis said, "And it certainly isn't defunding the police.
"We need to take steps to heal this nation and address radical discrimination. But we do not need to adopt radical policies like defunding the police."
State leaders' response to the coronavirus pandemic was also a hot topic for speakers.
State Representative David Welter (R-75), campaigning for re-election, called out the actions of "King" Pritzker, in his response to the pandemic.
Welter highlighted several lawsuits in various phases throughout the state, challenging Governor JB Pritzker's actions over the past several months.
"Small business owners, churches, different individuals and organizations trying to save their livelihood, trying to get by, and we continue to have a governor who is trying to make it as difficult as possible," Welter said.
"The Democrats want to tell us that it's okay to riot, but it's not okay to open our business. They want to tell us it's okay to riot, but it's not okay to praise God, to go to church," Tom McCullagh, state senate candidate for the 49th district said. McCullagh, who touted his distribution of face shields to first responders, also reminded the crowd to pay attention to the status of several lawsuits against Pritzker's coronavirus response.
Jeanette Ward, running to fill Oberweis' seat, also criticized the governor's response to the pandemic, comparing his behavior to that of a "Socialist dictator."
"His unconstitutional mandate was supposed to end after 30 days, and it was defeated in court last week," she said. "Yet he still keeps on making rules and laws as if he was a socialist dictator."
"If you are not free to enter public spaces and go shopping without a face covering, you are not free. If you are not free to hold church services and worship God while abortion clinics continue their murderous spree, you are not free," Ward told the crowd. "If you aren't opening your business to the public without government permission, you are not free. If you're not free to take your children to public playgrounds that you pay for, you are not free. If you're not free to send your children to school, paid for with your money, and allow them to play freely with other children, you are not free."
"It's amazing to me how 'my body, my choice' only applies to certain things. That's only if you want to kill the unborn," she said.
"2020 is not just a fight for the heart and soul of Illinois," McCullagh reminded the crowd during his remarks. "It's a fight for the heart and soul of our country."