Watch now: Illinois Dems vow to defeat 'extremist' Bailey (2022)

SPRINGFIELD — Illinois Democrats looked both backward and forward Wednesday as they held their annual rally at the Illinois State Fair, vowing that they "won't go back" to the years of former Gov. Bruce Rauner while pledging to defeat Republican gubernatorial nominee state Sen. Darren Bailey.

Democrats descended upon the capital city for the annual festivities, which started with a brunch reception at the Bank of Springfield Center where several key Democrats made remarks and ended with a rally on the Director's Lawn on the Illinois State Fairgrounds.

Any lingering tension over control of the state party was left in the background as party leaders touted their record during Gov. J.B. Pritzker's tenure, including a litany of policy achievements like raising the state's minimum wage to $15 an hour and sound fiscal management that has led to a half-dozen credit rating increases.

People are also reading…

"It has become clear to anyone paying any attention to Washington or Springfield that there's a party that whines and there's a party that works," said Illinois Senate President Don Harmon. "Our party, the Democratic Party, is the party that works."

Illinois Democrats have had their run of the place for nearly four years, holding all the statewide constitutional offices and supermajorities in the state legislature along with a majority Democratic congressional delegation.

But party leaders said they cannot rest on their laurels, prepping gathered rank-and-file Democrats and party officials for a midterm election that typically goes against the party in power.

"Are you ready for the fight?" Pritzker bellowed at the morning brunch event.

Watch now: Illinois Dems vow to defeat 'extremist' Bailey (1)

The hundreds gathered in the convention all screamed "yes."

Here are some other observations from Governor's Day at the Illinois State Fair:

Rauner remains a boogeyman

Former Gov. Bruce Rauner has been out of office for nearly four years, but you wouldn't know it based on the speeches given by various Democrats.

Rauner, of course, declared political war on former House Speaker Michael Madigan and the state's labor unions early in his tenure, leading to a protracted standoff that resulted in more than two years without a state budget.

Watch now: Illinois Dems vow to defeat 'extremist' Bailey (2)

The fallout was incredibly costly, especially for key Democratic constituencies that rely on social services provided by the state — not to mention the fiscal impact.

As a result, the former governor remains a central boogeyman to gin up enthusiasm for Democrats.

"Before I took office as your comptroller, in the two short years before me, that guy earned eight consecutive credit downgrades during the economic bull market in our lifetime," said Comptroller Susana Mendoza. "It is hard to be that bad."

Mendoza in her remarks also referred to the former governor as "Lord Voldemort," the villainous wizard from the "Harry Potter" franchise.

"When that big bully would punch down at me, I would metaphorically-speaking kick him in the groin with much joy and pleasure," she said.

House Speaker Chris Welch, D-Hillside, seeking to protect his supermajority, linked several Republican candidates running to Rauner and groups previously aligned with the former governor.

(Video) Watch: Full Jan. 6 Committee Hearing - Day 7

Watch now: Illinois Dems vow to defeat 'extremist' Bailey (3)

"We won't see anyone fighting for the rights of working families because nearly half of their candidates were recruited by Bruce Rauner's buddies at the Illinois Policy Institute," Welch said of Republicans.

"You guys remember the Illinois Policy Institute," he continued. "They ran Bruce Rauner's office. Do we want to go back to that?"

"No," the audience shouted.

"We won't go back to that," Welch said.

A video montage of negative news coverage of Rauner was featured at the brunch, including the cover of conservative magazine National Review declaring him "the worse Republican governor in America."

A voiceover from a story about that cover says "this much is clear: Illinois hardly could do worse." The video then pans to an image of Bailey, implying that the current GOP nominee could be worse.

Watch now: Illinois Dems vow to defeat 'extremist' Bailey (4)

The room burst out in laughter.

Bailey characterized as 'MAGA extremist'

Much of the criticism of Bailey came from Pritzker and Lt. Gov. Juliana Stratton, who each started by touting their administration's record of accomplishments, essentially framing what was at stake in the coming election.

Watch now: Illinois Dems vow to defeat 'extremist' Bailey (5)

"But hear me when I say this: if he is elected, on day one, Republican nominee Darren Bailey — pardon me, I'm sorry, let me rephrase that, the Trump-endorsed, MAGA extremist Darren Bailey will do everything in his power to try to turn back the clock on our progress," Stratton said.

Stratton mentioned — and videos earlier in the program featured — Bailey's inflammatory remarks comparing abortion to the lives lost in the Holocaust. They also featured him stating "let's move on" immediately after the July 4 mass shooting in Highland Park.

Pritzker added his belief that the Republican Party has been taken over by the "lunatic fringe."

"They want to distract us into believing that marriage equality, Black history, Disney World and library books are more of a threat to our children than AR-15s," Pritzker said. "They're attempting to divide America with hateful words and a radical agenda."

"To protect our fundamental freedoms and fight for working families, we have to elect pro-labor, pro-choice, pro-voting rights, pro-civil rights candidates up and down the Democratic ballot," he said.

Watch now: Illinois Dems vow to defeat 'extremist' Bailey (6)

Pritzker did strike a conciliatory note, saying that he believes "in working with people of different viewpoints to build a better, less rancorous political climate. We owe that to our children and our grandchildren."

"But in the face of what's happening in America today, in the face of what the Supreme Court and the radical right wing are trying to do to the fundamental rights of every American, we, the coalition of the sane, owe something better to our children and our grandchildren," Pritzker said. "We need to win."

Giannoulias ties Brady to Trump

Former state Treasurer Alexi Giannnoulias, who is the Democratic nominee in the race to succeed retiring Illinois Secretary of State Jesse White, tied his Republican opponent, state Rep. Dan Brady, R-Bloomington, to former President Donald Trump.

(Video) Watch: Full Jan. 6 Committee Hearing - Day 5

"Make no mistake — Darren Bailey, Dan Brady and others are part of Donald Trump's new Republican Party," Giannoulias said. "The same party that wants to eliminate abortion rights, put assault weapons on streets, undermine our elections and restrict who can cast a ballot. That's who they are."

Giannoulias has routinely sought to nationalize this race, hoping to gin up Democratic enthusiasm over Republican efforts in other states to restrict voting rights.

Watch now: Illinois Dems vow to defeat 'extremist' Bailey (7)

However, the Illinois Secretary of State's office, unlike most counterpart offices in other states, has little to do with administering elections, a responsibility of the Illinois State Board of Elections.

Brady, to this point, has run a campaign focused on improving the customer service functions of the office. Its main responsibility is to issue driver’s licenses and register motor vehicles, and has avoided partisan issues.

Giannoulias, who served as treasurer from 2007 to 2011, won a three-way Democratic primary in June.

Jesse White gets standing ovation

White, the most popular statewide elected official in recent years, received multiple standing ovations Wednesday as Democrats acknowledged his last state fair in office.

It's for real this time. The 88-year-old had said he planned to retire two previous cycles before being talked out of it.

But, there is still one job White will keep when he leaves office.

"I want you to know that as I ride off into the sunset, I will continue to do what I've been doing for 63 years — and that is I've been the coach and founder of the Jesse White Tumbling team," White told the brunch crowd.

Visibility for Asian American candidates

Watch now: Illinois Dems vow to defeat 'extremist' Bailey (8)

A record number of Asian American candidates are running for state and local office as Democrats, a fact that was a point of pride at the brunch.

Josina Morita, a commissioner of the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District, highlighted this as she accepted the ILDCCA's "Party Builder" award.

"There is a saying that you are either at the table or on the menu," Morita said. "When I moved to Illinois in 2002, there were zero Asian Americans in visible, elected office. We were on the menu and, like, a side dish, not even a main course. So much has changed in the last 10 years."

At the federal level, U.S. Sen. Tammy Duckworth was elected to the House in 2012 and the Senate in 2016. U.S. Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi was elected in 2016.

At the state and local level, Asian Americans have gone from holding zero elected offices to 10, or as Morita put it, "started to break that bamboo ceiling."

And they were successful in the June primary in 19 out of 22 contests.

And it's not all Chicago area contests — McLean County Board member Sharon Chung won her primary for the 91st Illinois House District.

Chung received a shoutout from Pritzker during his remarks.

Country singer Chris Young performs

Pritzker has never been one to cheap out on entertainment for big events, booking Maroon Five to play at his inaugural ball in 2019, for example.

On Wednesday, the entertainment was country singer Chris Young.

Watch now: Illinois Dems vow to defeat 'extremist' Bailey (9)

His set began just minutes after Pritzker and other leading Democrats left the stage. Only a few dozen rally goers crowded near the stage, which was under a makeshift pavilion.

The vast majority of the politically-minded crowd opted to hobnob on the Director's Lawn, listening at a distance.

Photos: Illinois State Fair political days through the years

2012 State Fair

Watch now: Illinois Dems vow to defeat 'extremist' Bailey (10)

2012 State Fair

Watch now: Illinois Dems vow to defeat 'extremist' Bailey (11)

2015 State Fair

Watch now: Illinois Dems vow to defeat 'extremist' Bailey (12)

2015 State Fair

Watch now: Illinois Dems vow to defeat 'extremist' Bailey (13)

(Video) Watch: Full Jan. 6 Committee Hearing - Day 8

2015 State Fair

Watch now: Illinois Dems vow to defeat 'extremist' Bailey (14)

2007 State Fair

Watch now: Illinois Dems vow to defeat 'extremist' Bailey (15)

2008 State Fair

Watch now: Illinois Dems vow to defeat 'extremist' Bailey (16)

2008 State Fair

Watch now: Illinois Dems vow to defeat 'extremist' Bailey (17)

2009 State Fair

Watch now: Illinois Dems vow to defeat 'extremist' Bailey (18)

2012 State Fair

Watch now: Illinois Dems vow to defeat 'extremist' Bailey (19)

2012 State Fair

Watch now: Illinois Dems vow to defeat 'extremist' Bailey (20)

2005 State Fair

Watch now: Illinois Dems vow to defeat 'extremist' Bailey (21)

2004 State Fair

Watch now: Illinois Dems vow to defeat 'extremist' Bailey (22)

2003 State Fair

Watch now: Illinois Dems vow to defeat 'extremist' Bailey (23)

2003 State Fair

Watch now: Illinois Dems vow to defeat 'extremist' Bailey (24)

2006 State Fair

Watch now: Illinois Dems vow to defeat 'extremist' Bailey (25)

2007 State Fair

Watch now: Illinois Dems vow to defeat 'extremist' Bailey (26)

(Video) WATCH LIVE: Jan. 6 Committee hearings - Day 5

2012 State Fair

Watch now: Illinois Dems vow to defeat 'extremist' Bailey (27)

2018 State Fair

Watch now: Illinois Dems vow to defeat 'extremist' Bailey (28)

2012 State Fair

Watch now: Illinois Dems vow to defeat 'extremist' Bailey (29)

2021 State Fair

Watch now: Illinois Dems vow to defeat 'extremist' Bailey (30)

2021 State Fair

Watch now: Illinois Dems vow to defeat 'extremist' Bailey (31)

Contact Brenden Moore at217-421-7984. Follow him on Twitter:@brendenmoore13

0 Comments

Tags

  • Central-illinois
  • Democrats
  • Bruce Rauner
  • J.b. Pritzker
  • Politics
  • Republican Party
  • Darren Bailey
  • Candidate
  • Juliana Stratton
  • Institutes
  • Giannoulias

Get local news delivered to your inbox!

Brenden Moore

Videos

1. Watch Live: House Jan. 6 Committee Hearing | WSJ
(Wall Street Journal)
2. Jan. 6 committee holds eighth public hearing in series - 07/21 (FULL LIVE STREAM)
(Washington Post)
3. WATCH LIVE: January 6th Committee Hearing | Oath Keepers + Proud Boys | Group Thread Livestream
(Crooked Media)
4. Gunmaker CEOs testify in congressional hearing on recent mass shootings – watch live
(Guardian News)
5. Bailey, Rabine, Sullivan face off in Illinois Republican Primary Governor Debate
(WGN News)
6. LIVE: Jan. 6 Committee Holds Public Hearing On 2021 Capitol Attack | NBC News
(NBC News)

Top Articles

You might also like

Latest Posts

Article information

Author: Reed Wilderman

Last Updated: 11/28/2022

Views: 5889

Rating: 4.1 / 5 (52 voted)

Reviews: 91% of readers found this page helpful

Author information

Name: Reed Wilderman

Birthday: 1992-06-14

Address: 998 Estell Village, Lake Oscarberg, SD 48713-6877

Phone: +21813267449721

Job: Technology Engineer

Hobby: Swimming, Do it yourself, Beekeeping, Lapidary, Cosplaying, Hiking, Graffiti

Introduction: My name is Reed Wilderman, I am a faithful, bright, lucky, adventurous, lively, rich, vast person who loves writing and wants to share my knowledge and understanding with you.