Batinick, Benton clash on Madigan, corruption in Illinois House 97 race

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Allegations of wrongdoing by Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan featured heavily in a discussion between the candidates for House District 97.

State Rep. Mark Batinick, R-Plainfield, continued to tie his opponent, Democrat Harry Benton, to Madigan during the virtual meeting on Thursday with The Herald-News.

"Let’s be honest, this race is about Madigan and corruption," Batinick said. "My opponent is taking a whole bunch of money from Madigan. He has not denounced him."

Batinick, who has called on Madigan to resign multiple times, argued corruption in the state government won’t be solved until the powerful speaker leaves office. He also referenced the bribery scheme that the utility company ComEd confessed to and was fined $200 million for that was linked to the speaker.

Madigan has not been charged and has denied any wrongdoing.

While Benton voiced support for ethics and campaign finance reform, he did not directly say if he thought Madigan should resign from office or as the chair of the Democratic Party of Illinois. He blamed Republicans for weaponizing the issue and distracting from the campaign between him and Batinick.

"It’s a partisan game to take away from the actual races that are happening throughout the state," he said. "No matter what district you’re in, that is the tactic of the Republicans. The race is between Mark and me."

Benton also didn’t answer whether he’d vote for Madigan to be the speaker, assuming he wins and Democrats remain in the majority after the election. He also didn’t commit to voting for Madigan and said there were other members who are aiming for the speakership so, "we have to look at all the options."

Benton added his vote for the speaker would be a "moot point" if he didn’t win the race.

Batinick pounced on the answer.

"I can’t believe you actually sat there and told a reporter that line of BS that it’s a moot point," Batinick said. "It’s the most important vote you take as a state rep."

The incumbent argued Madigan would not bring legislation up for a vote that addressed any "serious reform."

Batinick also conceded that Benton could win the race because of his financial support from the Democratic Party of Illinois, which Madigan heads, and said it was "sad" his opponent wouldn’t "stand up to something that is so blatantly wrong."

Two years ago, Batinick narrowly fended off another challenger by a little over 1% of the vote.

Benton responded by accusing Batinick of not condemning "racist and homophobic" remarks allegedly made by State Rep. Amy Grant, R-Wheaton, about her Democratic opponent Ken Mejia-Beal, a Black and openly gay man.

On Sept. 21, Benton called on Batinick to condemn the remarks and for Grant to resign.

"I’ll answer it very clearly right now: I absolutely denounce the words that Amy Grant said," Batinick said.

But the incumbent also said the recording of the comments Democrats pointed to did not show the full context of what Grant said, citing another news outlet’s report.

Batinick added that calling on Grant to resign over her comment, but not doing the same for Madigan over the bribery scandal, "just blows me away."

When asked about why allegations against the speaker haven’t led to more election wins for Republicans, Batinick said Madigan has used his power to gain influence and resources to keep himself and Democrats in office.

"To go against that army is an incredibly difficult thing," he said. "So obviously he may have electoral success. It doesn’t mean it’s the right thing to do."

via | The Herald-News

October 9, 2020 at 04:54PM

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