Party leaders gather for Democrat Day

August 19, 2009 (CHICAGO) Mixed in with the animals, carnival rides and food, people found plenty of politicians searching for votes.

As fairgoers milked and showed off livestock, the Democratic party's political animals gathered for the governor's picnic a few hundred yards away.

The party's county chairmen's association voted to endorse Alexi Giannoulias in next February's primary for U.S. Senate.

"Right now I'd say he is definitely the frontrunner and I don't know if he is going to have a viable opponent," said Joe Weger, Lawrence County Democratic chairman.

Some downstate county chairmen wondered why the other Senate candidate, Chicago Urban League President Cheryle Jackson, did not politic at this year's state fair.

"She hasn't called, hasn't said nothing, hasn't been around, hasn't introduced herself," said Rocky Raikes, Lasalle County chairman.

Giannoulias said he was pleased that Chicago businessman Chris Kennedy dropped out of the race on Tuesday.

"From a political perspective, we're in a very good place but its going to be a lot of work," said Giannoulias.

At the party's pre-fair brunch there was tension when state comptroller Dan Hynes mentioned his primary challenge to the unelected sitting governor Pat Quinn.

"I respect Pat Quinn. I find him to be a decent man. But this nomination must be earned," said Hynes.

Quinn, who praised the other statewide officeholders during his remarks, would not mention Comptroller Hynes by name or office.

"If somebody wants to run against me, that's their choice. It's a democracy," said Quinn.

And there could be another Democratic candidate for governor within a few weeks. State Rep. Jack Franks of Marengo says he's close to making a decision.

"I'm not a Chicago politician. I'm a farm boy from Marengo and I rely on common sense. And I think we need a change," said Franks.

Charles has more on the political beat in his Precinct 7 Blog.

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