Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner was a popular target Thursday when Illinois Democratic candidates met in Springfield for an annual political breakfast.
The Democrats are criticizing Rauner for all the things you’d expect: his agenda, the budget stalemate, and his reluctance to talk about President Trump.
Gubernatorial candidate Chris Kennedy said both Rauner and Trump were too slow to condemn the violence and political intimidation last weekend in Charlottesville, Virginia.
“We don’t allow that in this country," he said, "and for the governor to be hesitant on that point, for the president to be hesitant on that point, is to put our democracy at risk."
But some are going even further. Chicago Ald. Ameya Pawar, also a candidate for governor, accused Rauner of using racial dog whistles to divide Illinois. “You see, what Bruce Rauner is doing is he goes to poor white communities in central and southern Illinois, and he tells them that the reason they have trouble getting ahead or their schools aren’t funded is because 'those people in Cook County and in Chicago get more than their fair share,’" Pawar said, "and we know what he means when he says ‘those people.’” Pawar says events like the violence last weekend in Charlottesville are at the end of a line that begins with policies meant to divide.
Senate President John Cullerton mocked Rauner for a recent interview he did on FOX News that was widely criticized by even right-wing commentators.
"In that interview, there’s only one word to sum what he was," Cullerton said. "Presidential."
House Speaker Michael Madigan said Democrats will continue to block Rauner’s anti-union agenda.
- Statehouse Reporter Brian Mackey and WBEZ's Tony Arnold contributed to this report.