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Hola es su centro para mantenerse informado, compartir ideas y conectarse con recursos. (Hola is your hub to stay informed, share ideas, and connect with resources in northern Illinois.)

Northern Illinois RNC delegate says issues, not personality matter in her support for Donald Trump

A local Donald Trump delegate to the Republican National Convention said she wasn’t surprised by President Joe Biden’s performance at last week’s debate.

“I wasn't really expecting much out of the debate— any new information,” said Jan Klaas, the vice chairperson of the Winnebago Republican Party. She’s also a trustee of the Cherry Valley Township.

“I'm just surprised that so many people were so upset with Biden's cognitive response.” she said.

This will be Klaas’ first time at the Republican National Convention. She’s been involved with the local party for over 25 years. She’s among the six delegates representing the 16th Congressional district who were elected during the March primaries.

“I prefer Trump, because of his policies. Not his moral leadership, and not his personality, [which] is offensive to some people,” Klaas said. “I like his policies much better than Biden's.”

Klaas’ career was in nursing. Her husband founded a financial and investment firm. She was drawn to politics through her involvement in the homeschool movement in the ‘90s and found that the Republican party aligned with her views.

She said a quote from Plato sums up why she gets involved.

“The price of apathy towards public affairs is to be ruled by evil men,” she said. “And that really stuck with me, because if we want good leaders, we need good people to help get them elected.”

She identifies as a Christian and shares the beliefs of conservative evangelicals on social issues such as abortion, family and marriage.

"Platform" Republican

Klaas considers herself a “Platform” Republican.

In addition to social issues, she said the party platform includes a strong military, increased border security, less regulation and lower taxes.

She said the party platform helps to measure up candidates or elected officials carrying the Republican banner.

“Sometimes candidates want to say, ‘Well, I'm a Republican,’ but then when they vote for tax increases and abortion on demand, and against school choice, that's not sticking with what our platform says,” she said. “And you do that too much of the time, and you're probably going to have somebody challenge you in the next election.”

At the convention delegates will officially select their party nominee for president, and vice-president, which the latter hasn't been announced. They'll also vote on the specifics of the party's national platform.

“To me the platform of party is really important,” she said, “because it's your best indicator of how you're how you recruit candidates.”

Illinois Republican Party

Leading into the convention, state Republican party chairman Don Tracy resigned citing intra-party disputes. Klaas’ says divisiveness isn’t new and goes back several elections. Currently, the Democratic party holds a supermajority in the Illinois House and Republicans have three out of the 17 representative seats in the U.S House.

She said some of the differences within the party are based on geography.

“So, you might have some of the Republicans that are in the urban areas that don't value our position on some of the social issues like, you know, abortion, traditional marriage, even some differences in education,” Klaas said. “But, I would say we would agree 80% to 90% of the time.”

While there are differences within the party, she said the Illinois delegation stands united behind Trump who is the presumptive candidate after his rivals including former governor of South Caroline Nikki Haley and Florida Governor Ron DeSantis dropped out.

During the presidential debate, Trump was evasive on whether he’d commit to accepting the results of the election.

Klaas said she plans on accepting the results.

“It's hard to say beforehand,” she said, “but yeah, I am planning to accept the results.”

And she added, she feels confident in the election process.

“I've been involved in our party and our county with improving our election integrity, and training poll watchers, and just understanding the mail in ballot process better, she said. “So, I think there's a lot more eyes on the process this time around.”

The Republican National Convention starts July 15 in Milwaukee. The Democratic National Convention will be held in Chicago starting August 19th.

A Chicago native, Maria earned a Master's Degree in Public Affairs Reporting from the University of Illinois Springfield . Maria is a 2022-2023 corps member for Report for America. RFA is a national service program that places journalists into local newsrooms to report on under-covered issues and communities. It is an initiative of The GroundTruth Project, a nonprofit journalism organization. Un residente nativo de Chicago, Maria se graduó de University of Illinois Springfield con una licenciatura superior en periodismo de gobierno.