CHICAGO (FOX 32 News) - Some are calling it a political purge.
Republicans in Chicago are used to being outnumbered by Democrats. But now, the party chairman claims local GOP ranks are riddled with Democrats in disguise. And in an unprecedented purge, he's moving to fire one-fourth of the city's elected Republican ward committeemen.
The Republican purge targets 13 ward committeemen who were all elected by the voters in last month's primary. Some are angrily fighting back. Chicago GOP Chairman Chris Cleveland is refusing to seat 13 of the newly-elected committeemen because he says almost all of them voted in a Democratic Party primary.
Cleveland calls them agents of Democratic boss Mike Madigan.
“He changed the law at the end of 2014 to make it so that the ward committeemen can control it, because he didn't like the fact that we recruited a lot of actual Republicans. So, they ran a lot of people and we had to remove them,” Cleveland said.
“I said, like President Reagan, I'm a former Democrat,” said Steve Graves, who was elected as the 19th Ward GOP Committeeman.
Graves, who’s also a realtor, swears he's not a Mike Madigan stooge and quotes Ronald Reagan a lot.
“Well, I'd say the Democratic Party left me. I'm for less government. I'm for lower taxes. I'm for strong military. I'm pro-life,” Graves said.
One Republican activist concedes Graves' conversion may be sincere, but says this purge is long overdue.
“Chicago Democrats have infiltrated the Republican Party to put stooges in as Republican committeemen and then stooges in as election judges, which is important for free and fair elections in Chicago,” said radio talk show host of WIND-AM 560, Dan Proft.
Wednesday night's confrontation forced the meeting to be postponed. So, the party's Chicago chairman says he’s going to make the purge official at the next meeting. But he won't say publically when or where that meeting will take place.