Key Democrats skip out on Illinois State Fair

August 17, 2011 2:23:46 PM PDT
Democrats talked about of party unification and reelections at Governor's Day at the Illinois State Fair- although not all key players showed up.

Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan tried to rally the troops with a big, "Good morning, Illinois Democrats!" But one of the missing Dems was her father, Michael Madigan, the state's Democratic Party chairman.

"Some people are out of town, I guess, but we have the Democratic Party alive and well right here in Illinois, and we're going to go out next year and re-elect President Barack Obama," Gov. Pat Quinn said.

Quinn talked about Obama's re-election while dozens of union members protested his move to take back promised pay raises for state workers. He downplayed the missing Dems -- which included Dick Durbin, who is out of the country on vacation with his wife -- and joked about his time with Republican presidential candidate Texas Governor Rick Perry, with whom he roomed during a trip to Iraq two years ago.

"And I had to listen to his so-called philosophy for seven days. The harshest philosophy known to man," Quinn said.

It didn't take long before the pep rally turned to divided politics. Quinn criticized the gaming bill because it allows slot machines at the fairground racetrack. Senate President John Cullerton says slots at racetracks were critical to getting the bill passed.

"That is an important part of the bill. Again, we have to make sure we can work with the governor on the bill to get him to sign," Cullerton said.

Cullerton is confident there will be a revised bill to Quinn's liking before the next session. A divided Democratic Party does not come as a surprise to Illinois State Senator Kirk Dillard (R). The Republican called Governor's Day a down day for Democrats.

"The president's approval ratings are down. The nation lost its credit rating. The stock market is down and the first governor they helped elect in more than 20 years is about to go to prison. The only thing that is up in Illinois is the income tax increase, courtesy of Illinois democrats," Dillard said.

Senator Dillard promises a more unified tone Thursday on Republican Day at the state fair.

Also Wednesday, Secretary of State Jesse White, a Democrat, announced he will run for re-election in 2014. When elected last year, White said this would be his last term. He has a change of heart and says his mission is not done.

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