Pictured left to right are Senate President Don Harmon, D-Oak Park, Republican Attorney General nominee Thomas DeVore, Democratic Attorney General Kwame Raoul and House Minority Leader Jim Durkin, R-Western Springs. (Capitol News Illinois photos by Jerry Nowicki)
Friday, August 19, 2022
2022 hopefuls come out in force for one of the state’s biggest campaign stages
By JERRY NOICKI
Capitol News Illinois
SPRINGFIELD – Along with fried foods, carnival rides and an 800-pound cow made of butter, the Illinois State Fair is known for its political theater.
For the Statehouse press corps, it means we clear our schedules by at least two days in mid-August each year to accommodate candidate speeches, handshakes and one-liners.
On the latter front, jokes ranged from knee-slapping to eyebrow-raising.
One comment that falls into the latter category comes from Republican attorney general candidate Thomas DeVore, the attorney who gained statewide notoriety by suing Gov. JB Pritzker for challenging his executive order authority during the COVID pandemic -19.
During his Republic Day speech on Thursday, DeVore took aim at Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx, a favorite target of many on the Republican ticket for her tax leniency under certain circumstances.
“You make me attorney general, and if Kim Foxx doesn’t prosecute them, I will,” DeVore told the crowd. “And she better get prosecuted or we’ll find a way to prosecute her.”
It’s the kind of comment Democratic Attorney General Kwame Raoul alluded to when he said the AG’s race “matters more than at any time in American history.”
Crime was also on the mind of gubernatorial candidate Darren Bailey as the upstate farmer said for at least the third time in recent months that he thinks Chicago is “hell.”
He doubled down when reporters asked him if he thinks most Chicagoans feel the same way.
“Actually, I think so,” he said. “Because it’s not safe. But it will change.”
Pritzker, meanwhile, characterized the Bailey-led GOP as having been taken over by the “crazy margin.”
“They will say anything, do anything, destroy anything to get elected,” Pritzker said in his Dem Day speech Wednesday.
While Bailey also criticized Pritzker’s “soft hands” compared to his work-worn “farmer’s hands” in a compelling contrast, Hell’s comment is the kind of message that has many in the GOP hesitate to even mention Bailey’s name.
House Minority Leader Jim Durkin of Western Springs told members of the media that he would support the Republican ticket, but would not go so far as to drop Bailey’s name for an endorsement.
Durkin said he’s optimistic that the record 106 Republican candidates for the state House can affect Democratic supermajorities, especially if the candidates focus on economic conditions.
“The cost of living, inflation,” he told me in an interview. “These are the things on people’s minds, and they’ve had enough.”
Durkin also had one of the most memorable words when characterizing the Democratic festivities at the Bank of Springfield Center, sometimes referred to by his initials, BOS.
“The only thing they should have done is take the ‘O’ off the BOS because it was more of a BS center, because I could smell it all the way down I-55 when I was driving into town” , he said.
While Durkin used the phrase “limo liberals” to describe the majority party, “Democrats deliver” was the label for the opposing side as it talked about climate legislation, minimum wage increases, a relief plan fiscal and other legislative achievements.
Senate Majority Leader Don Harmon of Oak Park also contrasted the two parties with the alliteration.
“It’s become clear to anyone paying attention in Washington or Springfield that there’s a party that whines and there’s a party that works,” he said. “Our party, the Democratic Party, is the party that works.”
For Hillside state House Speaker Emanuel “Chris” Welch, the rallying cry was “we’re not coming back,” as he strongly alluded to the former Republican governor’s tumultuous tenure. Bruce Rauner, of Evanston.
Of the 106 Republican candidates for the House, Welch said, many of them were recruited by “friends of Bruce Rauner,” the Illinois Policy Institute think tank.
Comptroller Susana Mendoza also hit back at Rauner, recalling her days as a counterattack to the former governor who allowed the impasse while in power as the state’s backlog of bills swelled to about 16,000 millions of dollars. Bills due now total about $2.2 billion, meaning they are paid within weeks of being received by the comptroller.
“This guy won eight straight downgrades during the best economic bull market of our lifetime,” he said. “It’s hard to be that bad.”
While Mendoza noted that Illinois has had six credit upgrades during Pritzker’s tenure, his opponent, McHenry County Auditor Shannon Teresi, focused on some of Mendoza’s political ties.
“He started his career in Danny Solis’ neighborhood organization. He’s been impeached,” Teresi said. “He got married at Ed Burke’s house to Ed Burke’s wife (Supreme Court Justice Anne M. Burke), and Ed Burke has been impeached. He gave the speech of Mike Madigan’s nomination to become Speaker of the House and is indicted.”
Meanwhile, Rep. Dan Brady, R-Bloomington, made a strong point when he promised to make his speech “as short as the lines will be at the driver services facility when he’s elected secretary of state.”
The deputy minority leader in the General Assembly also gleefully told reporters that he had shown off his line-shortening savvy at the GOP’s day picnic, splitting the long line for free barbecue in two.
“The first day, we make sure we start cutting those lines just like we moved people through two lines here for lunch at the Republican picnic today,” he said. “And I’m not secretary of state yet.”
Brady’s Democratic opponent in the race to replace SOS Jesse White, a man praised by both candidates, is Alexi Giannoulias, the former state treasurer. He tried to tie Brady to the top of the GOP ticket and to former President Donald Trump.
“Make no mistake, Darren Bailey, Dan Brady and others are part of Donald Trump’s new Republican Party,” Giannoulias said. “The same party that wants to eliminate abortion rights, put assault weapons on the streets, undermine our elections and restrict who can vote.”
Brady said he voted for Trump in 2020, but the only people who ask him about that are in the media. The public would rather focus on reducing wait times and improving driver services, he said.
“That’s what I’m talking about, and that’s what people are talking to me about,” he said.
Jerry Nowicki is the bureau chief for Capitol News Illinois, a nonprofit, nonpartisan news service covering state government that is distributed to more than 400 newspapers statewide. It is funded primarily by the Illinois Press Foundation and the Robert R. McCormick Foundation.
CHAPTER SUMMARY: Candidates pitch to voters at the Illinois State Fair