Elected Illinois Officials See Their Presence At Trump's Inauguration As A Political Statement

Jan 19, 2017

For elected officials in Illinois, attending Donald Trump's inauguration Friday is a political event. And their presence or absence is a political statement.

Credit "United States Capitol" by Flickr User Cliff / (CC X 2.0)

Several congressmen who represent parts of Chicago are skipping the Inauguration, but their reasons vary.

U.S. Rep. Luis Gutierrez gave a whole list of reasons in a speech on the House floor for boycotting -- from Trump’s comments on sexually assaulting women to blaming the outcome of a court case on the Mexican heritage of a federal judge.

"I cannot sit there as if this inauguration is ok and I forgave him," he said.

His Democratic colleague, U.S. Rep. Mike Quigley, also is skipping the inauguration. Quigley says he doesn’t consider it a boycott.

Instead, he characterizes it as a reaction to one thing: Trump’s tweets criticizing civil rights icon U.S. Rep. John Lewis over the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday weekend. Dan Lipinski, Jan Schakowsky, and Bobby Rush are other Democratic representatives skipping the inauguration.

Area Democrats who are attending the event include U.S. Reps. Bill Foster, Cheri Bustos, Raja Krishnamoorthi and Brad Schneider, and U.S. Senators Dick Durbin and Tammy Duckworth.

Many of them also note they’ll march with thousands of women on Saturday in response to some of Trump’s policies.

One Republican who’s also not going is Gov. Bruce Rauner; he says he’s too busy because of the lack of a state budget.

"People understand in Washington and around the country that Illinois has big challenges," Rauner said, "and they know and respect the fact that I am 100 percent focused in Illinois working on getting a balanced budget with structural change to the system."

Asked if he was concerned he’d be the subject of a vindictive Trump Tweet, Rauner laughed.

One Republican going to the Inauguration is state GOP chairman  Tim Schneider. He says not to overanylyze the governor's decision.  

"I’m the leader of the Illinois party," Schneider said. "Many of us will all be out there. We’re looking forward to a great transition of power."

Schneider dismissed the week’s events as “purely ceremonial,” brushing aside a question about the state's relationships with the new Trump administration.

This Inauguration is a reward of sorts for Illinois State Rep. John Cabello, R-Machesney Park. He was one of the few elected Illinois Republicans to support Trump throughout the whole campaign.

"Obviously I put in a lot of work," Cabello said, "did a lot of traveling throughout the state talking at different events on his behalf."

Cabello says that, despite all the attention the Inauguration is receiving for those who aren’t going, he still expects a full house at tonight’s party for Illinois residents who are there.  These include some state lawmakers and Republicans serving at the county level.

As for those skipping the inauguration out of protest, Cabello says they should grow up and respect the will of the people.