Illinois Democrats promote justice and unity for 2022 candidates despite disagreements within party

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SPRINGFIELD, Ill. – Wednesday was the unofficial kickoff of the 2022 campaign season for Illinois Democrats. Lawmakers and supporters from across the state were in Springfield for the Democratic County Chairs’ Association brunch and Governor’s Day at the Illinois State Fair.

Democrats stressed they’re focusing on science, facts, and unity while encouraging supporters to vote blue down the ballot. The ILDCCA’s brunch is the biggest political event of the year for the party. While organizers hoped to see 1,000 people, only a few hundred showed up for the outdoor event. Organizers recently decided to move the brunch and rally outside to follow CDC guidance. Gov. JB Pritzker, Lt. Governor Juliana Stratton, and Sen. Tammy Duckworth chose not to attend.

“Whatever you may read in the press, Democrats in Illinois are united,” said ILDCCA Chair Kristina Zahorik. “There’s too much at stake to be divided.”

However, most political followers in Illinois can see there is still division between Pritzker and Democratic Party Chair Robin Kelly.

Many speakers highlighted success for Democrats in Congress and the General Assembly over the past two years. Sen. Dick Durbin also celebrated the victory of President Joe Biden.

“We finally have a president we can be proud of, one who brings dignity to the office,” Durbin said. “A president who seeks to unite us and not divide us.”

Others stressed jobs, justice, and progress are on the ticket in 2022.

Looking to 2022: A “must-win scenairo”

“When Democrats win, when we flip seats, we bring change,” said Congresswoman Lauren Underwood. “And we cannot lose sight of that as the goal even if we do not know who’s running in the upcoming election.”

Democrats also said 2022 is a “must-win scenario” to hold the majority in Congress. The Illinois executive officials are all up for election as well.

The heat may have been a factor, but supporters started to disperse by the time Pritzker appeared virtually at the brunch.

“It is truly wonderful to be here with you virtually to celebrate the work that Democrats just like you are doing in every corner of our great state,” Pritzker said in a recorded video. “While we’ve gotten so much done over these last few years, we all know there’s so much more we must do.”

The ILDCCA invited Sen. Jon Ossoff from Georgia to be the guest speaker for the event. Ossoff and Rev. Raphael Warnock won both U.S. Senate seats for the state on January 6, 2021. That win helped Democrats take hold of the Senate majority.

Ossoff said Democrats acted quickly to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic over the past six months. He noted how the majority party sent relief checks to families struggling to get by and put funding aside for schools and healthcare providers. The senator also said Democrats were responsible for making the COVID-19 vaccine free and available to every American.

Rising above party lines to enact change

“After Republicans passed tax cuts for the rich and corporations, Democrats passed one of the largest midde class tax cuts in American history,” Ossoff said. “Despite the divisions in our politics, the Senate passed the most ambitious infrastructure bill in half a century by an overwhelming bipartisan majority proving that America’s political leadership can rise above party to serve our national interest.”

Democrats hoping to succeed Secretary of State Jesse White also spoke at the event. Former Illinois Treasurer Alexi Giannoulias, Chicago Clerk Anna Valencia, Chicago Alderwoman Pat Dowell, and Alderman David Moore shared their accomplishments and goals for the office. We asked White, the well known 87-year-old, what advice he had for the candidates looking to fill his shoes.

“Not only do I want them to take on the job but take on the responsibility that goes with it,” White said. “Be at the duty station and discharge your duties to the best of your ability every day. And make sure that our employees treat our customers in a manner which they deserve to be treated.”

Meanwhile, Pritzker welcomed supporters to an afternoon barbeque party highlighting the success of Democrats. The governor says his administration put Springfield back on the side of working families. Pritzker also celebrated monumental changes from the Legislative Black Caucus.

The governor feels there’s plenty for Democrats to run on next year.

“We’re the ones who got credit upgrades for the state. The Republicans? Credit downgrades for years,” Pritzker said. “We’re the ones who’ve been fighting for a woman’s right to choose, we’re the one’s who’ve been increasing mental health funding.”

Lifting up women while supporting Democrats

Stratton also spent time Wednesday recognizing the 101st anniversary of the 19th Amendment protecting women’s constitutional right to vote. She said people should honor the fight of women suffragists who worked to make that right possible. Stratton told supporters they could continue to support women by voting for Democrats up and down the ballot.

“When we passed the minimum wage and raised the minimum wage here, we did that to lift up women and children of our state. That was one of the ways that we lift up women as Democrats,” Stratton said. “When we strengthened the Equal Pay Act to make sure that we as women get paid for the same rate that men get paid, that was another way that we lift up women in this state. We as Democrats did that.”

Pritzker said he’ll continue to support Democrats and claims he has a great relationship with Congresswoman Kelly. The governor said he invited Kelly, but he also understands she was too busy to attend.

The post Illinois Democrats promote justice and unity for 2022 candidates despite disagreements within party appeared first on WEEK.

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