Kessem vs. McAuliffe for Republican post
by BRIAN NADIG
Chicago police sergeant Ammie Kessem is challenging incumbent Michael McAuliffe for the 41st Ward Republican committeeperson seat.
In Chicago, Republican politics is often an afterthought – as the Democratic Party dominates city and countywide elected offices.
However, the 41st Ward is arguably the city’s most conservative ward, demonstrated by the fact that McAuliffe served as the area’s state representative from 1995 until his retirement in 2019. McAuliffe remains the ward’s committeeperson, a post that he has held since 1995.
McAuliffe follows in his father’s footsteps, as Roger McAuliffe was a longtime state representative and the 38th Ward Republican "committeeman" until his death in 1996. (Due to a new state law, the title "committeeman" was changed to be gender neutral.)
Kessem said that while McAuliffe has been a good legislator, he has been missing in action when it comes to supporting and recruiting local Republican candidates. She said that McAuliffe did not help her in her unsuccessful 2018 bid to unseat then-19th District state Representative Robert Martwick, who in 2019 was appointed to the 10th District Senate seat when John Mulroe decided to become a judge.
"He’s never really helped and supported Republican candidates," Kessem said, adding that McAuliffe has kept a low profile as a committeeperson. "When I’m out there knocking, nine of 10 have no idea who (currently holds the seat). It’s your job as committeeman to make sure people know who you are."
Kessem also said that McAuliffe has had "nonaggression pacts (with Democrats) to hold his" state representative seat.
McAuliffe responded that he has fought through several tough re-election campaigns, including the "most expensive legislative race in the country" in 2016 and a redistricted House race against longtime state Representative Ralph Capparelli in 2004.
McAuliffe said that he is proud of his work over the years on local Republican campaigns but that at times winning in the predominantly Democratic Chicago can be challenging, as demonstrated by 10th Senate District race in 2010.
In that election, McAuliffe supported the campaign of Republican Brian Doherty against Democrat John Mulroe. McAuliffe said that despite Doherty’s "high-name recognition" as a 20-year incumbent alderman, Doherty won only a couple of precincts east of Nagle Avenue in the 45th Ward.
Kessem serves as the vice president of the Northwest Side GOP Club, which recruits Republican candidates and has a precinct organization. She said that McAuliffe has not supported the club.
McAuliffe said that the club is backed by the Liberty Principles Political Action Committee that has worked to oust House Republican leader Jim Durkin. He said that he supports Durkin.
"I’m a loyal guy," McAuliffe said.
Both Kessem and McAuliffe described themselves as conservative, with each being pro-life and a Trump supporter.
McAuliffe, who lives in Edison Park, said that he is a lifelong Republican, always taking a Republican ballot.
"My number one goal is to get Brad Stephens elected in November," he said. Last year Stephens was appointed to McAuliffe’s former 20th District state representative seat following a weighted voted among the district’s republican committeepersons. At the time McAuliffe said that one of his goals was to recruit a Republican who could hold onto his former House seat for a long time.
Kessem, who lives in Norwood Park, said that she became a Republican after she became a police officer about 20 years ago. She said that she realized that the party reflected her conservative fiscal and social views and that she strongly supports President Trump’s efforts to increase border security.
Of note in the race, Alderman Anthony Napolitano (41st), who has described himself politically as an independent, has endorsed Kessem. He also has endorsed Bill Kilroy over Joe Cook in the 41st Ward democratic committeeperson race.