State

Democratic gubernatorial candidate J.B. Pritzker energizes crowd at new DeKalb office

DeKALB – Speaking at a bursting-at-the-seams opening of a new campaign office Sunday, Democratic gubernatorial candidate J.B. Pritzker said that come November, he will put Springfield back on the side of working families.

“I’m J.B. Pritzker, and I’m going to beat Bruce Rauner,” Pritzker told about 150 fired-up supporters who gave him a standing ovation. Juliana Stratton, Pritzker’s running mate, and Illinois Comptroller Susana Mendoza also gave brief remarks.

“I decided to run for governor because everything we care about – and I really mean everything – is under siege right now by a racist [and] misogynist in Washington, and by his local, silent partner, Gov. Bruce Rauner,” Pritzker said.

Pritzker, a billionaire, was quick to bind Rauner to President Donald Trump while differentiating himself.

“When the president of the United States wanted to take away health care from a million in the state of Illinois, what did Gov. Bruce Rauner do? He was utterly and completely silent, and you know silence is assent,” Pritzker said.

Mentioning last year’s white nationalist marches in Charlottesville, Virginia, Pritzker said Rauner was silent too long.

“When I watched television and saw what the president said, I was throwing things at the television set,” Pritzker said. “It took Rauner six days and a lot of pressure from reporters to finally come out and say something about it.”

By contrast, he said, “I think you want a governor who’s going to speak out, speak up and protect our people here in the state of Illinois.”

Pritzker’s brief remarks capped introductions and speeches from county, state and national Democratic candidates. Illinois’ biggest three priorities, he said, are universal health care, affordable college and increased wages.

Touting his recently released health care plan, Pritzker said, “Our plan also allows middle-class families, and those who are striving to get to the middle class, to lower the cost of health care they already have, putting thousands of dollars back on the table for those families.”

Of postsecondary education, Pritzker said, “We have got to lower the cost. We’ve got to make it more affordable. Kids and adults who choose to go back to college shouldn’t be strapped with debt for the rest of their lives.

“We’ve gotta raise wages in this state; we’ve got to create jobs,” he said. “Under Bruce Rauner, we’re in the bottom third of job creation in the entire United States here in Illinois. That’s wrong.”

He also gave a shoutout to labor unions, which drew enthusiastic applause.

For her part, Stratton said she intends to keep racial and social justice at the forefront of the public’s conscience, drawing on experiences as a business owner, someone who cared for a parent with Alzheimer’s disease and former head of the Center for Public Safety and Justice at the University of Illinois at Chicago.

Several candidates and attendees spoke of a recent surge in political interest, but the common denominator is a perception of how critical the Nov. 6 election is.

“Every election cycle, it seems, we say, ‘This is the most important election of our time,’ ” said Paul Stoddard, who is running for 70th District state representative. “But this election … is about the body and soul of the United States of America.”

“This is my first political event,” middle-aged DeKalb resident Randall North said. “[But] I’m on board with the blue wave. We’ve got to fix what’s wrong.”

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