In the middle of all this, and after Gov. JB Pritzker had made some of his growing list of difficult decisions, he was voted “hero of the week” Friday on a call-in radio show in Springfield.
This episode of the fun, but markedly unscientific, weekly feature of the Ray Lytle Morning Show on WMAY came after Pritzker closed schools, bars and restaurants across the state in response to the COVID-19 outbreak. But, it was before his Friday afternoon stay-at-home order, which was taking effect Saturday evening.
Sometimes, President Donald Trump wins the contest. And Lytle said the regulars who call in and vote for Trump made their voices heard after the big early lead by Pritzker. The Democratic governor, who has been on the national stage during this medical crisis, kept the lead – with second place going to front-line health care workers in central Illinois.
“I did not vote for him,” one person said in a Facebook message to Lytle with his “hero” vote for the governor. “I’m a Republican. But I think JB Pritzker has done everything correct.”
A caller, Lytle said, thought Pritzker should be a candidate for president.
In addition to his daily updates that the public hears, Pritzker has also been keeping in touch with lawmakers. And he has gone national with his message in television appearances.
On NBC’s “Meet the Press” last weekend, where Ohio Republican Gov. Mike DeWine also appeared, Pritzker complimented DeWine and other governors. He said a lack of national action has left decisions to be made on a state-by-state basis to close schools, limit crowds, or even shut down parades. (After Chicago St. Patrick’s Day parades were called off, the Springfield St. Patrick’s Day parade was postponed after Pritzker called Springfield Mayor Jim Langfelder to urge that action).
“We’re on our own out here,” Pritzker said of the states. “I wish we had leadership from Washington. We’re not getting it.”
State Sen. Steve McClure, R-Springfield, said the governor is trying to keep legislators informed. He said he’s been among lawmakers briefed by the governor in conference calls, and the governor’s office reached out to him to let him know of Sangamon County cases.
“Overall, the governor’s mindset is to protect the public at all costs,” McClure said. “I don’t question his motives at all.”
But, McClure added, he thinks what he considers political “cheap shots” Pritzker aims at the president are “totally unnecessary.” He includes social media posts Pritzker made when crowds returning from Europe were jammed awaiting customs checks at O’Hare International Airport. The governor posted that he was using social media to address Trump and Vice President Mike Pence “since this is the only communication medium you pay attention to,” and said, “The federal government needs to get its s@#t together.”
More customs agents were quickly assigned, but McClure said he thinks that came in spite of Pritzker, not because of him.
“You have to have a good working relationship with the federal government,” McClure said.
State Sen. Andy Manar, D-Bunker Hill, a Pritzker ally, thinks the governor and his team have been doing “an excellent job.”
“I spent a good 10 hours yesterday on the phone with constituents across the 48th District just answering questions, critical questions for individuals and small businesses,” Manar said, “and the governor and his team have provided incredible amounts of information in a transparent way so that people can have … accurate answers very quickly.”
As for the way Pritzker has talked of the president and his administration, Manar said, “I can understand why he’s frustrated. … Much of what has not happened in terms of national preparation has been thrust upon the states,” some blue and some red.” But, Manar added, Pritzker is “not letting that frustration get in the way of his job.”
Manar also said Senate President Don Harmon, D-Oak Park, told members of his caucus Friday that “discussions between the Republican leadership and the Democratic leadership in the legislature have been nothing but bipartisan.”
Talk show host Lytle told me that he voted for Pritzker – in the 2018 election as well as in the weekly contest Friday. In fighting the outbreak, he said, Pritzker has “tried his best to keep emotion out of it. … He knew there were people that were going to attack him, and he didn’t care. All he cares about is he wants this (coronavirus) thing to go away,” and for people to not get sick.
“That’s a quality that we need during this crisis,” Lytle said. And most of the voters on his Friday show agreed.
Contact Bernard Schoenburg: Bernard.email@example.com, 788-1540, twitter.com/bschoenburg.
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March 21, 2020 at 08:01PM