Local Democratic leader: Outreach is key to ‘blue wave’ in November


A central Illinois Democratic leader says he knows the blue wave is real because he’s been out knocking on doors. 

McLean County, home to Bloomington-Normal and Illinois State University, is in the middle of the state and sometimes middle of the road politically.

The county went for President Barack Obama and Sen. Dick Durbin, but has also elected almost exclusively Republicans to county and state offices. 

McLean County Democratic Chairman Eric Rankin said that could change this fall.

“We have more candidates on the ballot than we’ve ever had in Democratic Party history in McLean County,” Rankin said. “We are also now experiencing record level attendance at our party meetings. We’re now regularly over 100 people, where as a year or two years ago we were at 15.”

In the race for the state’s top spot, incumbent Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner is trailing in the polls to Democrat challenger J.B. Pritzker, who has invested more than $5 million to Democrats’ effort to get Democrats elected around the state.

“We are seeing Democrats pounding the pavement and energized to win in all 102 counties, including red districts where Democrats haven’t been competitive before. From Day One, our campaign has focused on rebuilding the infrastructure of the Democratic Party not just to beat Bruce Rauner, but to elect Democrats up and down the ticket … ” Pritzker spokeswoman Jordan Abudayyeh said. “With more than 20 field offices and counting, over 100 organizers, and thousands of volunteers, if there is a voter to be found, we will find them.”

Rankin said there is enthusiasm among Democrats in central Illinois for a simple reason. 

“All of a sudden [Democrats] are getting engaged because nobody has ever asked them before,” Rankin said. “Nobody has ever asked them to donate money, no one has ever asked them to knock on doors. And now all of a suddent, there are candidates running for everything and the turnout will be huge. This county will be blue in the next couple of election cycles.”

Rankin said a lot of Democrats are fired up over President Donald Trump and the Congressional races. He said that there are almost as many who want to vote in Illinois’ race for governor.

McLean County Republican Chairwoman Connie Beard isn’t seeing signs of a blue wave.

“Based on the number of new volunteers I’m seeing come through our doors and the turn out for our events, I know we have ‘red wave’ rising up to show that this is still a Republican county,” she said. “Always good to have competition but not at all frightened or intimidated by the work we see coming from the Democrats.”

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Region: Statewide,Politics

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August 28, 2018 at 11:05AM

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