Democrats get their day at Illinois fair to rebut Rauner, look ahead to 2016 – Chicago Tribune
Democrats get their day at the Illinois State Fair on Thursday, an opportunity to use the fairgrounds stage to rebut Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner while looking ahead to next year’s election.
Democrats surrendered their right to the fair’s Governor’s Day in November when Rauner became the first Republican elected as the state’s chief executive since 1998. On Wednesday, Rauner used the fair’s soapbox to vilify “Chicago political machine” Democrats under House Speaker Michael Madigan as the cause of the state’s budget impasse.
But Senate Democrats returned the volley Wednesday evening, sending the House an override of a measure Rauner vetoed that would require binding arbitration in lieu of a strike or lockout for current public employee union contracts that expired July 1.
Rauner has proposed a union-weakening agenda as part of any budget compromise. The governor has said he would not lock out state workers and has called the union-backed legislation the “worst” he has seen in trying to take away his administration’s negotiating efforts.
While Madigan has pledged the votes to override the measure, that remains questionable despite the Democrat’s 71-vote majority in the chamber â€” the minimum number needed to override a governor’s veto.
Still, the Senate Democratic response set the table for a daylong series of speeches Thursday by prominent party leaders who are expected to take turns criticizing Rauner’s efforts to weaken union influence in the state, including collective bargaining rights involving local governments and school boards.
While the budget impasse remains the most immediate issue, Democrats â€” as are Republicans â€” also are looking to the 2016 election when the offices of U.S. Senate, state comptroller and many legislative seats are on the ballot. Next year is a presidential election year, and Democrats traditionally do better than Republicans.
The Democrat Day festivities come a day after slatemakers in Cook County did not make an endorsement for the party’s nominee for the U.S. Senate to challenge Republican Sen. Mark Kirk, who is seeking a second term.
Neither U.S. Rep. Tammy Duckworth of Schaumburg or former Chicago Urban League head Andrea Zopp could muster the majority support of county slatemakers to net the endorsement Wednesday. Both Duckworth and Zopp are scheduled to speak during the Director’s Lawn rally at the fairgrounds.
Kirk was a surprising no-show to the GOP events on Governor’s Day, even as his seat is viewed as the top race for a potential takeover by Democrats among Senate contests nationally. A Kirk aide said the senator, already an outspoken critic of the President Barack Obama administration-led agreement to curb Iran’s nuclear program, was consulting with an expert on international terrorism in Chicago.
Also taking the stage are two candidates vying for the Democratic nomination for state comptroller, state Sen. Daniel Biss of Evanston and Chicago City Clerk Susana Mendoza. Mendoza, a former state representative, won the endorsement of Cook County slatemakers.
Democrats approved legislation creating a special election for the office of comptroller in 2016 following the death of Republican incumbent Judy Baar Topinka. Topinka won re-election last fall but died before being inaugurated. That left Rauner with the ability to appoint Republican Leslie Munger to the post, and she is seeking election.
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