Chad Connelly Honored as Unsung Hero of 2016 Election of Donald Trump
By Nancy Thorner
Photos by Mark Weyermuller
In what was a picture perfect evening on Monday, July 16, 2018, pro-Christian conservatives gathered at the corner of
McClurg Court and East Illinois St., Chicago, Illinois, to board the Ft. Dearborn for the 2018 Family Boat Cruise, co-
authored by One Nation Under God Foundation, Rev Robert Vanden Bosch, Chairman and Paul Caprio, Director, and co-
sponsored by Family Pac. Founded in Illinois in 2002, One Nation Under God has expanded to become one of the leading
pro-family values foundations in the country. It mission is to register, educate, and motivate pro-life and Christian values
voters to advance and protect Christian values in the public arena.
Upon boarding Ft. Dearborn, guests made their way to tables provided from which to enjoy the catered supper served
buffet style below deck and the events as they unfolded during the evening. As the cruise got underway, Sandy Rios
Rather, as Master of Ceremonies, welcomed those who had joined the 27th Family Boat Cruise. Sandy Rios hosts Sandy
Rios in the Morning on American Family Radio. It is one power packed hour each morning where listeners hear the
important news of the day.
Sandy provides the latest from DC with the savvy of an insider equipped with a Christian perspective, although Sandy
admitted that she is now doing her show from Florida where she now resides.
Paul Caprio, in his welcoming remarks, spoke of his 24 Principles of Leadership, the first principle being the willingness to
speak truth to power, whether it be to the governor, a senator, or other public official, even though they might not wish to
hear it. Paul’s leadership remark later served as the mantra by which to honor Peter Huizenga who died on May 4th of this
year. Peter worked for the conservative cause through his words, deeds and financial generosity. In what was the first of
four awards presented during the evening, the One Nation Under God award was presented to Heidi Huizenga on behalf
of her husband, Peter Huizenga. The Huizenga award was from Family Pac.It was appropriate for Jeanne Ives to have
presented the award to Heidi, as Ive’s campaign benefited from Peter’s generosity.
The other three awards of the evening were presented by Paul Caprio on behalf of ONUG to the Thomas Moore Society,
represented by Thomas Brejcha, President and Chief Counsel, and the law firm of Mauck and Baker, represented by John
Mauck and Thomas Baker, both of whom defend religious faith, and to the 2018 honoree and speaker of the evening,
Introduction of Chad Connelly by Paul Caprio
Chad Connelly earned his Bachelor of Science degree in Civil Engineering from Clemson University in 1985, where he
also was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant in the US Army. After serving as a Tank Officer, he entered the private
sector and worked for a national engineering firm for 8 years, managing over 100 employees and over $4 million in
revenues before starting his own business. For the next 12 years, he helped entrepreneurs begin and grow their own
small businesses, leading to a coaching, speaking, and consulting career. RNC Chairman Reince Priebus tapped him to
serve as the Republican National Committee’s First-ever National Director of Faith Engagement. He has since traveled to
40 states and spoken to over 80,000 pastors and faith leaders about the importance of pastoral leadership in the public
arena. His work has led to trusted relationships with a wide variety of denominational and organizational ministry leaders
across the nation and resulted in the highest evangelical turnout and vote in modern American political history in the 2016
In commenting about Connelly reaching over 80,000 faith leaders, Caprio mused: “If I were talking to 80,000 pastors and
priests, I would ask them what they are waiting for, for the sky to fall?” Paul further related how this nation is on the cusp
of losing its time-tested family values and culture. Donald Trump would not have been elected without the effort to get out
Christian voters in some states. Pro-life voters must be activated to register voters and energize the vote in every state.
The same turnout must happen in November of this year as back in 2016.
Additional information about Chad Connelly: As Former director of RNC Faith Engagement Initiative, Connelly launched
his own campaign in 2017 to represent South Carolina’s 5th Congressional District in a special election, a seat vacated
when Donald Trump tapped Mick Mulvaney as director of the Office of Management and Budget. With seven candidates
running on the Republican side, in a recent run off Connelly lost to incumbent Ralph Norman.
Chad Connelly Speaks
Connelly, in speaking about his background, spoke about his time in the military and his years as an electrical engineer
until he became dissatisfied, knowing that he wanted to something in which he could give back of himself. Connelly
expressed his astonishment at how little Americans knew about history.
In 2002 Connelly was asked to run for the South Carolina State Senate. Connelly related the story of how he asked the
Lord to send him a sign if He really wanted Connelly to run for office. The sign Connelly requested from God was that he
would run for office if he (Connelly) received three speaking engagement requests between Thanksgiving and Christmas.
As Connelly had had a limited number of speaking engagement up to this time, to Connelly’s astonishment, three calls
came through in quick succession requesting that Connelly appear as a speaker. Although Connelly lost the Senate race,
he related that the experience wasn’t about winning or losing, but about being obedient to God.
Connelly then spoke of another tragic episode in his life when his former wife committed suicide by putting a gun in her
mouth, having become very depressed over a situation not related to her marriage. Overwrought after this experience,
Connelly was told to count his blessings. But God did have a plan for his life. Connelly met his present wife, Dana,
whose husband had likewise committed suicide. The cruise marked their 11 th wedding anniversary. Dana participated in
the cruise on the Fort Dearborn. Dana’s two girls and Chad’s two boys live as a family in Prosperity, South Carolina.
Mid-term 2018 elections must duplicate those of 2016
Chad Connelly is confident that Evangelical voters launched President Trump into the White House, knowing firsthand as
he does about the effort to organize the Christian voting bloc when he began working for the Republican National
Committee in 2013 as the Director of the Faith Engagement Initiative. In other words, “Jesus in the Public Square.”
Chad spoke of being unhappy in 2008-2009 when McCain ignored the Evangelical vote. He was also upset in 2012 and
2013 when Romney did the same thing. When Chad Connelly took the job with the RNC, he had this theory: He thought
that by activating churches and connecting with them, it would be possible to do something that hadn’t been done before.
In Connelly’s original report, he said if 80% of the Evangelical vote was obtained, Democrats couldn’t win. And Connelly
was right! The Evangelical vote registered 81%, setting a record for Evangelical turnout.
The same must be done in the 2018 mid-term election. Said Connelly, “the problem is that many voters quit when they
win instead of keeping engaged. When disengaging it takes an awful lot of energy to get people back to that prior level.
We must discern what the local issues are, and then leverage our influence to impact those issues and concerns.”
As founder of Faith Wins, Chad is continuing his calling to stir Christians across American to protect our inalienable right
to freely exercise our faith without government involvement.
Connelly’s group Faith Wins can be found on www.faithwins.us and Connelly himself can be found on Twitter through the
Paul Caprio honored Chad Connelly with the 2018 One Nation Under God award as the unsung hero of the record
Cristian turnout in the 2016 election of Donald Trump.
Other notable happenings
The Pledge was led by Vince Kolber, while the prayer was given by Rev. Robert Vanden Bosch. The National Anthem
was sung by Lindsey Graham, First Baptist Church, Naples, Florida, who is fast becoming a leading Christian vocalist. An
accomplished pianist and flutist as well as a Christian vocalist, Lindsey has performed at concerts and musical events
across American and in Sweden and Northern Ireland, using her God-given musical talents to inspire people of faith. See
here about Lindsey Graham’s ministry. CD’s were available for sale.
Later in the evening Lindsey delighted cruise participants by performing some of her favorite songs, including "Danny
Boy" which featured Lindsey playing her flute and tin whistle.
And as the boat was making its way back to its dock, Lindsey led cruise participants in the singing of patriotic songs which
provided a beautiful and inspirational finish to what was already an evening filled with renewed acquaintances, the
greeting of friends, messages or inspiration and hope, and the sense of fellowship that comes from being with those
whose views and values are in harmony with one another.
Elected politicians, and those seeking election, who participated in the 2018 Family Boat Cruise
Sandy Rios read the list of those who were aboard the 2018 Family Boat Cruise:
Peter Breen, 48th District
Jeanne Ives, 42nd District
Tom Morrison, District 54
Allen Skillikorn, District 66
Dan Patlak, Cook County Commissioner
Doug Bennett, for 10th District, U.S. Congress
Jon A. Zahm, for Henry County Clerk/Recorder
Dan Ugaste, for State Representative 65th District