Watch now: Pritzker, Durbin rally Central Illinois Democrats – The Pantagraph

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SPRINGFIELD — Gov. J.B. Pritzker fired up Democrats in Central Illinois on Saturday evening, urging a strong get-out-the-vote effort from the party faithful assembled in the final 10 days until Election Day.

Pritzker, speaking at the Illinois AFL-CIO headquarters in Springfield, was joined by Sen. Dick Durbin, 13th Congressional District Democratic nominee Nikki Budzinski and state Sen. Doris Turner, D-Springfield, among others. 



Gov. J.B. Pritzker addresses supporters at a Springfield rally for Democratic candidates ahead of the Nov. 8 election. 



BRENDEN MOORE, LEE ENTERPRISES


The message was clear: Pound the pavement in the homestretch and ensure a strong turnout in order to protect the party’s policy achievements in Springfield the past four years and in Washington the past two years.

“(State Sen. Darren) Bailey and his Republican colleagues want to divide Illinois and take us back to the bad old days of Bruce Rauner,” Pritzker said, referring to his current GOP challenger and his predecessor, respectively. “They want to eliminate the state minimum wage, take away collective bargaining and reduce funding for students going to public schools.

“To the anti-worker, anti-family Republicans, we are going to have to work tirelessly for the next 10 days to beat them,” he said. 



Illinois Democrats gather for a group photo Saturday at AFL-CIO headquarters in Springfield. Pictured, from left: Illinois AFL-CIO President Tim Drea; state Sen. Doris Turner; Gov. J.B. Pritzker; state Rep. Sue Scherer; Senate President Don Harmon; Nikki Budzinski, candidate for the 13th Congressional District; and U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin. 



BRENDEN MOORE, LEE ENTERPRISES


Pritzker’s visit comes as Democrats across the country confront significant headwinds this election cycle, including low approval ratings for President Joe Biden and voter anxiety over high inflation and crime. 

Though Democrats received a boost in support following the Supreme Court ruling overturning Roe v. Wade in late June, polls have been trending Republican for the past few weeks, leaving Democrats scrambling to protect their majorities in Congress and their footholds in statehouses.

Though Pritzker has been comfortably ahead in most polls against Bailey, any trend toward Republicans could have an adverse effect for Democrats down the ballot in more competitive races.

Much of the focus Saturday was turning out the vote for state Sen. Doris Turner, D-Springfield, who is locked in a tight race against state Rep. Sandy Hamilton, R-Springfield, for the Decatur-Springfield Illinois Senate seat. 

The district supported Biden by just four points in 2020, making it one of the most competitive districts in the state. More than $5 million has been spent between the two campaigns on the race.



State Sen. Doris Turner, D-Springfield, speaks to supporters at the Illinois AFL-CIO headquarters on Saturday. 



BRENDEN MOORE, LEE ENTERPRISES


Pritzker urged Springfield and Decatur voters to return Turner, appointed in 2021 to replace former state Sen. Andy Manar, D-Bunker Hill, to the Capitol.

“When it comes to fighting for the people of her district, Doris always speaks truth to power,” Pritzker said. “I know because she is in my ear all the time about what’s best for her constituents. When Doris speaks, I listen.”

Further illustrating the importance of the race, Illinois Senate President Don Harmon, D-Oak Park, was in the district today knocking doors with Turner. 

“It’s definitely a close race — the good ones usually are,” Harmon told Lee Enterprises in an interview. “It’s a difficult year, it’s a competitive district. But Doris is deeply connected to the district and I think that, in the end, the voters not only in Springfield and Decatur but in other parts are going to see the wisdom of sending Doris back for another term.”

The race has gotten personal, with Hamilton’s campaign running ads accusing Turner of “a career of corruption.”

Asked about the nature of those ads, Harmon said that “even in the rough-and-tumble of politics, those commercials seem to me to be if not over the line awfully close to it.”

“We’re prepared for the unctuousness of politics, but everybody has to wake up the day after the election and work together,” he said. 

Turner poked fun at the Hamilton ad, titled “Doris Did it,” on Saturday, wearing a shirt that said “What Doris really did,” listing accomplishments underneath. 

Durbin also gave Turner a shoutout.

“We know they’ve thrown a lot of things at her in this race and you can expect that kind of stuff,” Durbin said. “But we know that at the heart of it, she is a good person who’s been a great state senator and needs to continue in that position.” 

Another focus was on the 13th Congressional District, which features a relatively close race between Budzinski and Republican Regan Deering.

Pritzker, in an interview with Lee Enterprises after the event, called Budzinski, a former senior adviser for his campaign and administration, “smart” and “policy-oriented.”



Gov. J.B. Pritzker hugs Nikki Budzinski, Democratic candidate for the 13th Congressinoal District and a former Pritzker aide. 



BRENDEN MOORE, LEE ENTERPRISES


“I’m really pleased to tell you that throughout the time that I worked with her, she genuinely spent 18 hours a day making sure that our administration was delivering on broadband, delivering on raising the minimum wage,” Pritzker said. “She did some major things that have upgraded the state over the last four years and now we get to send her to Washington to do that for us in Washington, DC.”

A recent Better Government Association report that found that Budzinski collected more than $500,000 in consulting fees in the 10 months after leaving her job in the Pritzker Administration, including more than $100,000 from “dark money” organizations that don’t disclose their donors. It also highlighted Budzinski’s cozy relationship with a Springfield lobbyist.

Pritzker dismissed the report as “hogwash.”

“When you’re in government, you follow the rules while you’re there, and she did that,” Pritzker said. “She was outside of government, she consulted, now she’s running to be our congressperson. And, genuinely, after 20 years of serving the public, I think people can look at her record and say she’s what’s best for working families.”



Gov. J.B. Pritzker, center, and Nikki Budzinski, right, rally at the Illinois AFL-CIO headquarters in Springfield. 



BRENDEN MOORE, LEE ENTERPRISES


Pritzker earlier in the day rallied with Lt. Gov. Juliana Stratton and other statewide elected Democrats in Chicago. 

Bailey did not have any public events listed Saturday. He will campaign Monday in the Chicago suburbs with former U.S. Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, a 2020 Democratic presidential candidate who recently left the party and has been campaigning for several Republicans across the country. 

Durbin, the no. 2 Democrat in the U.S. Senate, said it was crucial the party maintained control in Washington. To that end, he said he campaigned in Pittsburgh last week for Pennsylvania Senate candidate John Fetterman.

Sen. Dick Durbin addresses key Senate race in Pennsylvania.


Fetterman, who suffered a stroke earlier this year, is locked in a tight race against Republican Mehmet Oz, the former television doctor. With control of the Senate possibly at stake, Durbin said Pennsylvania voters have a big decision to make.

“So the question they’re asking themselves is whether a person with a disability can serve in the United States,” Durbin said. “My answer is two words: Tammy Duckworth.”

Duckworth, Illinois’ junior senator, is an Iraq War veteran who lost her legs and partial use of her right arm after her Blackhawk helicopter was hit by a rocket-propelled grenade in 2004.


Contact Brenden Moore at 217-421-7984. Follow him on Twitter: @brendenmoore13

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October 29, 2022 at 10:30PM

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