Long9 Launch

We’re taking things to the next level. We’re launching a new studio that will supercharge our impact. Today, we launch Long9 Studio.

Sixteen years ago, I felt a pull to politics. I enjoyed my career and was making a lot of money for a twenty-year-old, but I’ve never been driven by fame or wealth—my passion has always been making a difference. What I saw in politics was the chance to do something that mattered.

As we stand here today, the fruits of that labor are clear. In the nearly fourteen years of Cor Strategies and our affiliated companies and brands, we’ve advanced seven hundred candidates and hundreds of organizations and causes. I’ve recruited and trained over three thousand center-right candidates and activists. Cor is now the largest center-right company in Illinois and one of the largest in the Midwest.

And yet, while we are proud of the work we’ve done and the difference being made by the leaders we’ve supported, we can’t stand here today and say we’ve made the impact we set out to make. In a state of nearly thirteen million people, with seven thousand units of government and tens of thousands of elected positions, we’ve had to come to the difficult realization that investing ourselves in one candidate or cause at a time just isn’t going to make the change we want to see in our home state.

So we’re taking things to the next level—or, as one of my favorite shows Futurama would say, we’re gonna “kick it up a notch.” We’re launching a new studio that will supercharge our impact. Today, we launch Long9 Studio.

Why that name? Well, we believe the road back to relevance for our party, the Republican Party, is through Abraham Lincoln. Not only is Lincoln an inspiration for our brand as Illinois’ most famous son, but as a founder of the Republican Party, Lincoln is a model for what a successful Republican leader looks like today. We need to get back to our roots. Voters are clamoring for “governing leaders,” public servants who get things done, regardless of ideology. The hard-working, bootstrapping people of this state don’t care about politics, they simply want their leaders to focus on kitchen table issues that make their lives better. Those are the “log cabin virtues” on which Lincoln founded our party.

With that inspiration, we went on a search for a name that reflected our mission. We learned that in the second of Abraham Lincoln’s four terms in the Illinois legislature, he was dubbed a member of the “Long Nine,” a designation given to the nine legislators from Sangamon County who were all six feet or taller. This name had double meaning for me, as a cigar lover. A “long nine” cigar is a cheap cigar that was popular back in the 1800s. Its most famous advocate, Mark Twain, liked the cigars because, well, a 22-cigar-a-day habit isn’t cheap! Twain hilariously once used offering the foul smelling cigars to his dinner guests as a way to get them to all leave, a tactic I very well may try myself. That’s where we get our name.

The centerpiece of our studio, the Lincoln Desk, has a unique history. Abraham Lincoln used this desk when he served as a State Representative during his first three terms in office. At that time, the state capitol was in Vandalia—about 75 miles southeast of Springfield. Lincoln helped lead the effort to move the capitol to Springfield, and the desk followed him there as they met in a church building while the new capitol building was being built. When the legislature convened in the new capitol for the first time on December 7, 1840, they did so with brand new desks. Lincoln’s new desk from what’s now called the Old State Capitol in Springfield is on display in the Hall of Representatives, and it’s worth the visit. His old desk is now sitting downstairs in our studio. How it got there is a crazy story.

Lincoln’s friend, John G Graham, took possession of the desk. Graham was a member of the Illinois House of Representatives from 1858-1864. When he died, his landlady stored the desk, not knowing what it was, in an old chicken house. In 1898, a man by the name of C.E. Kuhlthau asked his landlady—this same woman—if she had a desk he could use to do his writing on. She produced the desk from storage. After using it for a bit, Kuhlthau went to send it to a repair shop, and in the process turned it over and there, pasted to the underside, he discovered a piece of paper that was now over forty years old, which read in part: “This desk was used by Abraham Lincoln during his last two terms as a member of the Illinois Legislature…” Now knowing what he had, Kuhlthau convinced the landlady to sell him the desk, which she did for a mere $2. Kuhlthau brought the desk with him to his home in Alton, then to Dayton, OH after his wife’s death. He then donated it to Henry E. Buck, Curator of the Museum Department of the Delaware Public Library in 1920, where it was put on display. It made its way into several private collections over the next hundred years, until appearing at auction in Dallas, TX, in December of 2022 where we purchased it and brought it back to Illinois.

The Lincoln Desk serves as a visual representation of the need to get back to our roots. Mark Twain said, “History does not repeat itself, but it does often rhyme.” One of Lincoln’s earliest published speeches, delivered to the Young Men’s Lyceum in Springfield in 1838 when he was still using our Lincoln Desk, was during a time of tremendous upheaval in the United States. Like today, too many were turning to violence to push their viewpoints. He cautioned the only way our nation would fall would be from within: “If destruction be our lot we must ourselves be its author and finisher. As a nation of freemen we must live through all time or die by suicide.”

Like in Lincoln’s time, today we are desperately in need of statesmen. That’s why we started Long9 Studio—to take our party back to its roots. Our mission is to equip center-right leaders like Lincoln who can lead us into the future. To accomplish this, we will teach Republicans how to win, equip them with information, and promote their successes, all while being entertaining.

Through this studio, we will be providing center-right audiences training and information through six channels.

  • Smoke-Filled Room will provide insight on what’s happening today and predict what may happen tomorrow in Illinois politics.
  • Live from the Lincoln Desk will give an unfiltered, unedited look at the real side of politics from someone who has spent nearly two decades wading through the muck.
  • Conversations with Illinoisans will help center-right leaders listen to what Illinois voters think by getting their thoughts directly on the issues being debated.
  • Log Cabin Virtues will provide training and information for the Right to help us more effectively communicate on the issues that matter to voters.
  • Lincoln Leaders will help promote leaders who are leading like Lincoln, celebrate their successes, and share the tactics and policies that have made them so successful.
  • Cor Strategies will use the studio to produce training videos on smart political strategy and tactics to help Republican candidates become more effective.

Thank you for being a part of this event as we launch this new venture. Cor Strategies isn’t going anywhere, it will continue along with our other brands. But now with Long9 Studio as a more public-facing entity, we’ll have the ability to make even more of an impact in Illinois and beyond. Our hope is we will be able to inspire and better equip statesmen who can lead Illinois into the future.