Statewide candidates campaign in Monticello

About 60 people heard from statewide candidates for office at the Piatt County Democrats Groundhog Day Dinner on Feb. 2 in Monticello. Among those present was J.B. Pritzker, one of six candidates who is on the March 20 Democratic primary ballot for governor.

Pritzker, leading Democrats in a majority of the most recent polls, started his brief speech by tying together current Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner and U.S. President Donald Trump, both of whom currently have low approval ratings.

“I’m running for governor because everything we care about, and I really mean everything, is under siege right now by that racist, xenophobic, misogynist in Washington, D.C. and his silent partner, Governor Bruce Rauner. Because when you have a governor who is unwilling to stand up and speak out, when a President is attacking people in our state, when he’s trying to take away a million people’s healthcare, when you have a chance to stand up for the people of Illinois, you have a governor who says he’s not in charge,” said Pritzker at the dinner downtown at Bergie’s – The Occasional Place.

Rauner, the Republican incumbent running for re-election, was quoted last week as saying he was “not in charge” due to his battles with Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan.

“Well, I want you to know that when I’m governor I will be in charge,” added Pritzker at the event held in downtown Monticello.

He also attacked the tactics of conservative backers Charles G. and David H. Koch in Illinois politics, and promised to support organized labor in Illinois.

“We’re going to get rid of right to work in this state, we’re going to get rid of the Koch Brothers, we’re going to stand up for collective bargaining rights, we’re going to stand up and force prevailing wage, we’re going to make sure people know in the state of Illinois that our labor unions are in fact protecting workers who don’t even belong to labor unions,” he said.

Right to work initiatives would allow some public employees who are not union members to refrain from paying union dues.

He also promised to improve the jobs climate in the state and improve education funding.

Twenty-year Illinois Senator Dick Durbin was also on hand at the Piatt County gathering, netting the biggest laugh of the night when complimenting Pritzker on visiting central Illinois.

“I’ve seen a lot of Chicago candidates who couldn’t find Piatt County with a GPS,” he said.

Durbin, who has endorsed Pritzker, also took time to defend FBI Director Bob Mueller, who has led investigations into possible Russian influence on the 2016 Presidential election, and whom Trump attempted to fire last summer.

“He is as straight and narrow as you would find in your life. I trust him completely. If at the end of the day he says there’s nothing I can bring a charge on against someone in the administration, I accept it, because I trust his judgement,” Durbin said of the Marine Corps veteran. “But if he says someone violated the law of American, whoever it may be, I’m going to stand behind him and we should all stand behind him.”

Pritzker is running in the Democratic primary against Daniel Biss, Chris Kennedy, Tio Hardiman, Bob Daiber and Robert Marshall.

Rauner is being challenged on the Republican primary ballot by State Representative Jeanne Ives.

Also on hand at the Groundhog Day Dinner were Pritzker’s running mate, State Representative Julianna Stratton, Illinois Treasurer Michael Frerichs and Betsy Londrigan, one of five Democrats vying to battle incumbent 13th District Congressman Rodney Davis.



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