Far-right groups organizing for 2023 local elections

People at a Black Lives Matter protest outside the Hall of Justice in Downtown Los Angeles. 15 JUL, 2020 - LOS ANGELES, USA

Far-right organizations in Illinois are prepping for local elections in Illinois next year, including training candidates.

A far-right candidate prep organization is coming to Naperville this Saturday, Dec. 3. The Leadership Institute (LI) has been training conservative activists since 1979. Past alumni include Christian Coalition leader Ralph Reed, former Vice-President Mike Pence and conspiracy website Project Veritas founder James O’Keefe.

Their last appearance in September sparked a coalition of parental and LGBTQ groups to protest at the Courtyard by Marriot in Des Plaines.

This time they’ll be at the Chicago Marriott Naperville starting at 9 a.m. It’s being run by Charlie O’Neill, the grassroots director for the LI, and Collin Corbett, a conservative political consultant from Palatine. Like the September session it will be focused on school board candidates. School boards have been a focus of many far-right groups as a way to insert their anti-diversity platforms into public schools.

The Illinois Family Institute (IFI) is actively recruiting people to run for local office, especially for school boards. The IFI proclaims itself as an affiliate of the American Family Association, which has been designated a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center.

The IFI also tagged far-right organizations like the Illinois Conservative UnionAwake Illinois, and Jeanne Ives’ Breakthrough Ideas as resource for potential candidates in an article on their website last week.

People who are interested in countering far-right candidates can push back by being active with their local elected bodies. Illinois Families for Public Schools, who did get someone in to watch the last training session, is offering support for those interested in running for office to support inclusion.