The McHenry County Republican Party has a new leader.
Her name is Diane Evertsen, a 73-year-old Harvard grandmother and political insider with a long resume – a history that includes a stint as president of Minutemen Midwest, an organization the Southern Poverty Law Center designated a “nativist extremist” group.
Evertsen won election as the GOP’s chairwoman Wednesday night at the party’s annual convention, beating out Old Guard representative Mark Daniel.
Precinct committeemen from across the county descended on McHenry VFW Post 4600 to cast a weighted vote and cement the GOP’s leadership for the next two years.
With votes counted, Evertsen ran away with the win, collecting 8,668 votes to Daniel’s 6,678.
Evertsen – a retired real estate agent who served on the Harvard School District 50 Board for 11 years, the McHenry County Board and currently serves as a McHenry County College trustee – was president of the Minutemen Midwest, which the SPLC named several times on its annual list of nativist extremist groups between 2007 and 2010.
The Alabama-based civil rights nonprofit defines nativist extremist groups as organizations that go beyond mere advocacy to personally confront suspected undocumented immigrants or those who hire or help them.
In its Spring 2007 issue of Intelligence Report, the SPLC quoted this statement from the Harvard-based Minutemen Midwest: “There is a conspiracy afoot to merge the U.S. and Mexico. This heinous ongoing treason has been engineered by an entrenched cabal of legislators, courts, military brass and government employees embedded at all levels of the executive branch, constituting a ‘Shadow Government,’ who are working to dismantle this country in plain sight.”
Evertsen – who had six children with her husband, Evert, and enjoys cooking, gardening and reading books by thriller writer Brad Thor – could not be reached for comment.
Her opponent, Daniel, is a precinct committeeman in Nunda Township and once served as the vice chairman of the McHenry County Republican Party under Mike Tryon.
To Daniel, Evertsen’s election, coupled with her ties to the Minutemen group, does not bode well for the McHenry County GOP.
“I think the Democrats are going to win some races,” Daniel said. “I’m not sure the party is going to move forward because of this.”
Chuck Wheeler, a District 4 McHenry County Board member, won election as the party’s vice chairman, collecting 8,787 votes to McHenry County Board District 6 representative Jim Kearns’ 5,975.
To Wheeler, the GOP’s new leadership represents a catalyst for change in a place where many Republicans describe the party as fragmented.
“Last night was a step in the right direction,” said Wheeler, the first black man elected to the McHenry County Board. “The Republican Party is going to come together.”
Karen Tirio, a McHenry County College trustee, defeated former Richmond Township Supervisor Tamara Valentine-Garza, 9,703 to 5,423. Tirio was not available for comment.
Rachael Lawrence – an Algonquin Township trustee – won election as treasurer. She ran unopposed.
“It was a very big win for a group that’s going to breathe new life into the Republican Party,” Lawrence said.