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During stop in B-N, Pritzker says this is the year Democrats will 'turn McLean County blue'

Jim Stahly Jr.
Gov. JB Pritzker, left, shakes hands with Vice Chairman John Whalen during the McLean County Democrats’ Honor the Roosevelts Dinner Thursday night.

Illinois Gov. JB Pritzker is a favorite fall guy among Republicans for most of Illinois’ woes: Violence. The economy. An exodus of population.

But speaking to McLean County Democrats on Thursday night, Pritzker placed the blame squarely on his Republican predecessor. Gov. Bruce Rauner’s two-year budget impasse put the state into a nose-dive, Pritzker said, while crediting Democrats with turning Illinois around.

Pritzker said lags in law-enforcement funding caused by the impasse were a “major cause” of violence that continues even today. He cited a Northwestern University study that links the pause in funding to a spike in youth homicides in Chicago in 2016.

And from a business perspective, he noted Illinois’ credit rating was downgraded eight times under Rauner.

“The devastation that Rauner left behind was far reaching and that has never been more apparent than right now,“ Pritzker said.

By contrast, Pritzker signed four balanced budgets, eliminated the bill backlog, and the state received six credit upgrades. Pritzker also credits his administration with addressing violence, citing “massive investments” in violence prevention initiatives, increasing the number of state troopers and building state-of-the-art crime labs. Further, he’s addressing the causes of violence: poverty, mental health and substance abuse, he said.

Pritzker at ISU.jpg
Jim Stahly Jr.
Illinois Gov. JB Pritzker speaks during the McLean County Democrats’ Honor the Roosevelts Dinner Thursday night.

“In all of this effort to fight crime, do you know how many Republicans voted for everything I just said? None.”

Beyond that, he credits Democrats with raising the minimum wage, expanding access to childcare, increasing education funding and teachers’ salaries expanding career and vocational training. He also touted passage of the Women’s Reproductive Health Act, which would protect a women’s right to choose even if Roe v. Wade is overturned.

Finally, he cited news today that Illinois’ population actually grew to 13 million, and that the 2020 census undercounted the state’s population by 250,000 people.

Pritzker didn’t focus on any of his challengers by name, but painted Republicans with a broad brush to emphasize the importance of Democrats retaining control.

“We know the Republican extremists are waiting in the wings to undo all our progress. If they win, they’ll take away reproductive rights, they’ll take away LGBTQ rights, they’ll reduce workers wages, they’ll eliminate college affordability and they’ll reduce healthcare coverage.”

'Turn McLean County Blue'

Pritzker lauded McLean County Democrats for gains in county offices that a decade ago would have been unheard of.

"You’ve ushered in a new era of Democratic politics in this county," he said.

Pritzker spent a half hour greeting volunteers and members one-by-one before his remarks at the local party’s “Honoring the Roosevelts” dinner in Normal. And from the podium, he called numerous volunteers by name, praising the “fierce democratic fighters” in McLean County.

“This is the year that we elect even more Democrats up and down the ticket and turn McLean County blue,” he said.

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