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Photos: Pritzker Picks Up Union Endorsement During Bloomington Stop

Democratic candidate for governor JB Pritzker stopped in Bloomington on Thursday to pick up a big union endorsement and lay out his plan for creating jobs in Illinois.

Pritzker’s “Think Big” bus tour stopped at a union hall in southwest Bloomington to be endorsed by the Midwest region of the Laborers’ International Union of North America (LIUNA). That organization represents more than 55,000 laborers, including construction, health care, and industrial workers.

Pritzker’s visit came on the same day that Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner visited Bloomington High School, part of his own state tour related to the signing of the long-awaited school funding bill.

“If Bruce Rauner wins, his Koch brothers network—that’s what he belongs to, this right-wing network—will have eviscerated unions across the Midwest. We are an island (in Illinois). We have to protect this state from their onslaught,” Pritzker said. “We need to win in 2018.”

"We need to win in 2018."

The Chicagoan was joined in Bloomington by his running mate, state Rep. Juliana Stratton. They were welcomed by local union leader John Penn, the head of the McLean County Democratic Party.

Pritzker has faced questions about his own vast personal wealth—criticisms that were also leveled against Rauner when he successfully ran for election in 2014. Penn tackled that issue head-on Thursday, even cracking a joke about Pritzker being the only one in the room who could afford to buy everyone there a drink. He also noted Pritzker’s track record as an entrepreneur and advocate for low-income children.

“This election is not about money. It’s about values, and what we stand for,” Penn said, citing a frequent Pritzker line. “We’ve got the total package in JB Pritzker.”

Pritzker’s visit was focused on job creation, specifically in central Illinois. He spoke to union members about his five-point plan for jobs, starting with investing in infrastructure like roads and broadband. He also wants to invest in state community colleges and universities so they can support startups.

He said Rauner’s negative remarks about the state—he called it “bad-mouthing”—was turning off businesses to the idea of coming or expanding in Illinois. In comments to reporters after the event, Pritzker appeared confident that he could do what former Gov. Pat Quinn couldn’t do in 2014—win downstate areas like McLean County. Rauner swept them all.

“Bruce Rauner is trying to pit communities against each other. He’s trying to divide downstate from the collar counties, and collar counties from Chicago. He’s trying to make a division because he thinks it will help him get re-elected. We shouldn’t let him do it. This is one Illinois.”

There are numerous other Democratic candidates for governor including state Sen. Daniel Biss, Madison County regional Superintendent of Schools Bob Daiber, State Rep. Scott Drury, former CeaseFire Director Tio Hardiman, businessman Chris Kennedy, Dr. Robert Marshall, Chicago Alderman Ameya Pawar, and engineer and business owner Alex Paterakis. Several of the other candidates have also visited Bloomington-Normal in recent months.

You can also listen to GLT's full story about his visit:

GLT's full story about Pritzker's visit.

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Ryan Denham is the digital content director for WGLT.
Carleigh Gray is a photographer for GLT, as well as a student at Illinois State University.