From LI Student to Illinois General Assembly

January 27, 2011 | By Lauren Hart

The email from Illinois State Representative Tom Morrison was simple: "Thanks to training at the Leadership Institute, my campaign manager and I beat an incumbent Illinois state representative in the primary, and we went on to win in the general election by 24%."

Of course, the story had more to it.

Tom, a 36-year-old local business owner, started taking Leadership Institute training in 2005. His first class was a Grassroots Workshop that the Leadership Institute hosted in Chicago, Illinois -- not far from Tom's hometown of Palatine. A few months later, he came for more training at the Leadership Institute's Arlington, Virginia office: Public Relations School, Campaign Leadership School, and Future Candidate School in quick succession.

When LI training came to Chicago the next summer to offer more training, Tom was there too. He attended the Institute's Grassroots Fundraising Workshop and Television Training Workshop, and then took an intensive, One-on-One Television Workshop.

Tom publicly declared his candidacy for Illinois state representative less than a year later in September 2009. His primary race was against a six-term incumbent who previously had beaten challengers.

When Tom won his primary race in February 2010, a local newspaper characterized it as a stunning upset. When Tom won the general election in November 2010, he did so by 24 percentage points.

Now Tom is a freshman member of the Illinois General Assembly. In one of his first official acts, he surprised senior members when he refused to join the Assembly’s “lucrative” pension program on the principle of cutting government spending.

Tom has credited his campaign victories to a "very, very strong grassroots effort" -- and Leadership Institute training.

"We were outspent in both elections nearly 2-1,” but were still victorious, Tom explained to the Leadership Institute. “Thank you for all of your good work. I've told dozens of people about your outstanding programs, and that you all were the key to my success.”

Tom joined hundreds of Leadership Institute graduates in winning political office in the 2010 election. Whether you're a candidate for student government, state house, US Senate, or any office among them, Leadership Institute training can help you too. Review LI's 2011 training schedule, and contact LI's Grassroots Department if you'd like to bring Leadership Institute training to your town.