Ingalls Urgent Aid
Democrats seek to project picture of unity, contrast to Rauner, Trump

Democrats seek to project picture of unity, contrast to Rauner, Trump

By JERRY NOWICKI
Capitol News Illinois
[email protected]

SPRINGFIELD – Ten months before Illinois’ 2022 primary elections, Democrats from across the state descended on the capital city for the annual political events that coincide with the Illinois State Fair as an election kickoff.

Party leaders at the Illinois Democratic County Chairs’ Association brunch delivered a message of unity and stark contrast with Republicans, including former Gov. Bruce Rauner and former President Donald Trump.

“We Democrats understand what’s at stake – government leadership in crisis. Decisive leadership. Roll-up-your-sleeves leadership. …” said Kristina Zahorik, IDCCA president, at the brunch. “That’s what Illinoisans want, and that’s what we do as Democrats in electing our leaders. … So whatever you may read in the press, Democrats in Illinois are united. There’s too much at stake to be divided.”

Democratic unity was in question in the lead-up to the first major party event organized under the new Democratic Party of Illinois Chair, U.S. Rep. Robin Kelly, a U.S. Congresswoman, from suburban Matteson.

Gov. JB Pritzker supported Chicago Alderwoman Michelle Harris, a rival candidate, for the DPI chair position vacated by former Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan. But Kelly won the post in a narrow vote by county chairs in March.

Pritzker decided earlier this month that he would skip the IDCCA brunch, which was originally planned for the indoor ballroom of the Crowne Plaza hotel in Springfield, due to concerns about the COVID-19 pandemic.

But when the event was moved outdoors, Pritzker still didn’t attend, citing private family plans he made in the meantime. Instead, he recorded a brief video message which followed closely to his remarks made less than two hours later and 10 miles away at the Governor’s Day event at the Illinois State Fair.

“There’s some people who try to write that people are boycotting or not going to something because they don’t want to, they don’t want to be there,” Pritzker said when asked about the brunch at the Governor’s Day rally. “The truth is that we’re all very busy. As you know, every day I’ve had about 10 events that I’ve had to attend, whether it’s here in the state fair or back up in Chicago, so I try to get to everything that I can. And I support every Democrat that was at the IDCCA event.”

Pritzker said he will continue to contribute to Democrats up and down the ballot through his Blue Wave Illinois advertising campaign which he launched in 2018 and has supported with millions of dollars of his own personal fortune since.

Kelly and Pritzker have both maintained they have a good relationship, and Pritzker said the Blue Wave Illinois effort is just one of several campaign funds used by Democrats to support down-ballot races.

But questions still surround the DPI’s fundraising structure because Kelly, as a sitting congresswoman, is prohibited from raising or distributing “soft money,” which includes money spent on state and local elections. That’s according to a ruling by the Federal Elections Commission.

On Tuesday night, the DPI announced the formation of the Building Leadership, Unity, and Equity (BLUE) Illinois Committee, which is made up “entirely of non-federal office holders not appointed by the chair, and will be dedicated to managing the party’s non-federal account.”

Pritzker said Wednesday he hadn’t looked at the committee structure, and Senate President Don Harmon, D-Oak Park, and House Speaker Emanuel “Chris Welch,” D-Hillside, refused seats on it because of the complicated nature of the FEC’s ruling.

Neither Welch, who is out of state, nor Harmon, who is recovering from a mild breakthrough case of COVID-19, attended Tuesday’s events. Illinois’ U.S. Sen. Tammy Duckworth was also absent, participating through a recorded message like Pritzker.

For all the apparent discord about the high-level interworkings of the Democratic fundraising machine, members of the party were united in their messaging and rhetoric Wednesday.

The guest speaker at the IDCCA brunch this year was Democratic U.S. Sen. Jon Ossoff, of Georgia, who won a runoff election along with Rev. Raphael Warnock on Jan. 5 in that state to give Democrats a one-vote majority in the Senate, thanks to the tiebreaking role of Vice President Kamala Harris.

Kelly said that allowed Democrats to pass the American Rescue Plan Act to give aid to states and stimulus checks to average Americans without any Republican support.

“It wasn’t one Republican vote that sent the resources back to every state, even though they’re taking credit for it because their states and their towns and their mayors and governors are getting the resources too,” she said.

She credited Pritzker, Welch and Harmon for leading the state through the pandemic, and party voters who “make sure that Democrats are in the house on every level of government.”

Kelly, Ossoff and Illinois’ U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin contrasted the elation of turning the Senate for Democrats to the “shock” and “fear” of Jan. 6, when an angry mob of President Donald Trump’s supporters stormed the U.S. Capitol and stalled the certification vote of President Joe Biden.

“On Jan. 6, my wife Alicia was still working an overnight shift at Grady Hospital in Atlanta delivering babies, so I sat alone in my house watching the networks project our victories while a violent mob assaulted the U.S. Capitol and our Constitution,” Ossoff said. “And thank God. And thanks to the brave members of Congress on this stage, our Constitution survived.”

He touted the American Rescue Plan Act and a recently Senate-passed bipartisan infrastructure package as proof of the importance of reelecting Democrats.

While the national politicians touted the contrast to Trump, Illinois Democrats continued to point to the four years of government dysfunction under Rauner, including a two-year budget impasse which sent the state’s backlog of unpaid bills skyrocketing to more than $16 billion.

“Four years ago, Bruce Rauner and his Republican allies in the General Assembly were executing his assault on human services, his assault on unions, his anti-worker agenda, and we beat the hell out of him,” Pritzker said. “Now, because of Democrats, Illinois is finally moving in the right direction.”

He cited Illinois Democrats’ votes to raise the minimum wage, pass the Rebuild Illinois infrastructure plan with bipartisan support, reform the criminal justice system, add funding to the state’s education system and balance the budget, leading to upgrades from two major credit agencies.

Republican Day will take place Thursday at the Fairgrounds.

Capitol News Illinois is a nonprofit, nonpartisan news service covering state government and distributed to more than 400 newspapers statewide. It is funded primarily by the Illinois Press Foundation and the Robert R. McCormick Foundation.

Leave a Comment





Local News

Ray Stetz, of La Grange, talks with Township of Lyons Assessor Patrick Hynes (right) about possible property tax exemptions. (Photos by Steve Metsch)

Township residents talk taxes with elected officials

By Steve Metsch Marek Gil, like many residents, has questions about his property taxes. Plenty of questions. Gil owns two properties, one in Hickory Hills and one in Justice. Asked if his taxes are too high, Gil replied: “Of course.” Gil, who resides in Justice, was among a group of residents who attended the “Coffee…

Summit village officials and employees stand in front of this year's Christmas Tree. (Photos by Carol McGowan)

Summit lights village Christmas Tree

By Carol McGowan Nearly 50 people were on hand November 18 as the Village of Summit Christmas tree was lit. It was a true sign of the holidays to come, as the crowd gathered by the tree and sang a Christmas carol while sipping on hot chocolate and coffee. It was one of the first…

Orland Park Mayor Keith Pekau announces his intention to run for the 6th Congressional District. (Photo by Jeff Vorva)

Pekau joins crowded Republican field in 6th Congressional District

By Jeff Vorva In what could be one of the most interesting and heated congressional races in the state in 2022, Orland Park Mayor Keith Pekau announced Monday he is planning on running in the new 6th Congressional District. He will be running as a Republican and, so far, will battle energy consultant Niki Conforti in the…

Palos Park's Denise Cowan is one of four citizens to object to the village considering video gaming. (Photo by Jeff Vorva)

Palos Park delays gaming vote again

By Jeff Vorva Someone should send the mayor of Palos Park some Alka-Seltzer. For the third meeting in a row, the Palos Park Village Council did not take any action on bringing gaming machines to town. Mayor John Mahoney and Commissioner Dan Polk are leaning in favor of it to help out the local businesses…

More than 800 runners competed in this year’s Turkey Trot. Photo by Jeff Vorva

Record number of runners come out for 33rd Turkey Trot

By Jeff Vorva Correspondent In 2019, Patrick Foster won the Orland Park Turkey Trot for his first top finish in a competitive race. This year, he was back in the winner’s circle. Foster, an Orland Park native who now lives and works in Madison, Wisconsin, finished the 2 1/2-mile race in 14 minutes, 19.9 seconds…

Madelyn and Zachary Rodrigues are proud to hold an annual toy drive benefiting patients at Comer Children's Hospital at the University of Chicago. (Supplied photos)

Teen helps others despite brittle bone disease

Family toy drive benefits Comer Children’s Hospital By Kelly White Early on in her life, Madelyn Rodrigues was diagnosed with Osteogeneis Imperfects, a brittle bone disease that has already resulted in more than 70 bone fractures in her 14 years of life. As a freshman at Illinois Lutheran High School in Crete, Madelyn’s inner strength…

Peggy Zabicki

Thankful for the man who gave us Peanuts

By Peggy Zabicki Your correspondent in West Lawn 3633 W. 60th Place • (773) 504-9327 Did you know that Charles M. Schulz, author of the Peanuts cartoon series, was born on Nov. 26, 1922? I’m thankful and grateful for his creativity, which has endured the test of time. His cartoon movie, A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving, was first…

Kathy Headley

Marquette Bank wants your opinions

By Kathy Headley Your correspondent in Chicago Lawn and Marquette Manor 6610 S. Francisco • (773) 776-7778 So after eating the big Thanksgiving meal and maybe planning some weekend shopping, if you are a Marquette Bank customer, you might want to take the 2021 Customer Survey before it’s too late. The deadline is Nov. 30.…

Karen Sala

There are many Jewels, but ours shines brightest

By Karen Sala Your correspondent in Gage Park (773) 471-1429 • [email protected] Turkey Day is over, and now it’s time for leftovers! I enjoy leftovers from Thanksgiving dinner more than the original. Even though I went by my son’s, I still made my own turkey and sides. That way I have leftovers. I was watching TV…

Mary Stanek

The best is what’s left over

By Mary Stanek Your correspondent in Archer Heights and West Elsdon 3808 W. 57th Place • (773) 284-7394 I hope everyone’s tummies are full of all that Thanksgiving goodness. In the words of actor and comedian Kevin James, “Thanksgiving, man. Not a good day to be my pants!” Now the best part about Thanksgiving being…

Neighbors

AladdinsBanquets WebAd
USALiquidators WebAd
Ray Stetz, of La Grange, talks with Township of Lyons Assessor Patrick Hynes (right) about possible property tax exemptions. (Photos by Steve Metsch)

Township residents talk taxes with elected officials

By Steve Metsch Marek Gil, like many residents, has questions about his property taxes. Plenty of questions. Gil owns two properties, one in Hickory Hills and one in Justice. Asked if his taxes are too high, Gil replied: “Of course.” Gil, who resides in Justice, was among a group of residents who attended the “Coffee…

Summit village officials and employees stand in front of this year's Christmas Tree. (Photos by Carol McGowan)

Summit lights village Christmas Tree

By Carol McGowan Nearly 50 people were on hand November 18 as the Village of Summit Christmas tree was lit. It was a true sign of the holidays to come, as the crowd gathered by the tree and sang a Christmas carol while sipping on hot chocolate and coffee. It was one of the first…

Orland Park Mayor Keith Pekau announces his intention to run for the 6th Congressional District. (Photo by Jeff Vorva)

Pekau joins crowded Republican field in 6th Congressional District

By Jeff Vorva In what could be one of the most interesting and heated congressional races in the state in 2022, Orland Park Mayor Keith Pekau announced Monday he is planning on running in the new 6th Congressional District. He will be running as a Republican and, so far, will battle energy consultant Niki Conforti in the…

Palos Park's Denise Cowan is one of four citizens to object to the village considering video gaming. (Photo by Jeff Vorva)

Palos Park delays gaming vote again

By Jeff Vorva Someone should send the mayor of Palos Park some Alka-Seltzer. For the third meeting in a row, the Palos Park Village Council did not take any action on bringing gaming machines to town. Mayor John Mahoney and Commissioner Dan Polk are leaning in favor of it to help out the local businesses…

More than 800 runners competed in this year’s Turkey Trot. Photo by Jeff Vorva

Record number of runners come out for 33rd Turkey Trot

By Jeff Vorva Correspondent In 2019, Patrick Foster won the Orland Park Turkey Trot for his first top finish in a competitive race. This year, he was back in the winner’s circle. Foster, an Orland Park native who now lives and works in Madison, Wisconsin, finished the 2 1/2-mile race in 14 minutes, 19.9 seconds…

Madelyn and Zachary Rodrigues are proud to hold an annual toy drive benefiting patients at Comer Children's Hospital at the University of Chicago. (Supplied photos)

Teen helps others despite brittle bone disease

Family toy drive benefits Comer Children’s Hospital By Kelly White Early on in her life, Madelyn Rodrigues was diagnosed with Osteogeneis Imperfects, a brittle bone disease that has already resulted in more than 70 bone fractures in her 14 years of life. As a freshman at Illinois Lutheran High School in Crete, Madelyn’s inner strength…

Peggy Zabicki

Thankful for the man who gave us Peanuts

By Peggy Zabicki Your correspondent in West Lawn 3633 W. 60th Place • (773) 504-9327 Did you know that Charles M. Schulz, author of the Peanuts cartoon series, was born on Nov. 26, 1922? I’m thankful and grateful for his creativity, which has endured the test of time. His cartoon movie, A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving, was first…

Kathy Headley

Marquette Bank wants your opinions

By Kathy Headley Your correspondent in Chicago Lawn and Marquette Manor 6610 S. Francisco • (773) 776-7778 So after eating the big Thanksgiving meal and maybe planning some weekend shopping, if you are a Marquette Bank customer, you might want to take the 2021 Customer Survey before it’s too late. The deadline is Nov. 30.…

Karen Sala

There are many Jewels, but ours shines brightest

By Karen Sala Your correspondent in Gage Park (773) 471-1429 • [email protected] Turkey Day is over, and now it’s time for leftovers! I enjoy leftovers from Thanksgiving dinner more than the original. Even though I went by my son’s, I still made my own turkey and sides. That way I have leftovers. I was watching TV…

Mary Stanek

The best is what’s left over

By Mary Stanek Your correspondent in Archer Heights and West Elsdon 3808 W. 57th Place • (773) 284-7394 I hope everyone’s tummies are full of all that Thanksgiving goodness. In the words of actor and comedian Kevin James, “Thanksgiving, man. Not a good day to be my pants!” Now the best part about Thanksgiving being…

DVN Les Brothers Restaurant House Ad
CRR NH Ptecik Bakery House Ad