Democratic state senators Dan Biss and Laura Murphy. Photo: Fred Klonsky
Every election season our North Lake Shore unit of the Illinois Retired Teachers Association has a luncheon where we invite candidates for the Illinois legislature to come and talk about school funding, pensions and issues specific to our interests as retired educators.
Today was the day.
Frankly, the participation from elected Democrats was light. Probably because most of the incumbents are assured re-election in this heavily Democratic area.
Democratic State Senator Dan Biss is running unopposed but he came anyway.
Dan Biss turned to the Republican challengers at the head table and – I’m paraphrasing here – said, “No Democratic legislature in any state would sign off on an anti-union, anti-worker agenda like Governor Rauner has proposed. Why would he think we would?”
Good point. And I hope he is right.
State Representative Robyn Gable and I exchanged pleasantries.
“How have you been?” she asked.
“Since we won and you lost on our pension fight, I’m great,” I laughed.
She laughed too. And she also declared at the microphone that she would never compromise on Rauner’s demands to restrict collective bargaining. And she too came knowing that nobody in the room lived in her Evanston district.
It’s a promise I hope she keeps. And although I don’t live in Robyn’s district, I heard it and now you “heard” it too.
Democratic State Representative Elaine Nekritz was a no-show. I’ve had to sit next to her over the years at these luncheons and it was never all that pleasant, so that’s okay.
Somebody asked me if she still does cart wheels in the Labor Day parade but I didn’t know the answer to that.
Illinois State Representative Elaine Nekritz did cart wheels in the 2012 Northbrook 4th of July parade.
What is my take-aways from listening to the Republicans?
Nobody mentioned Donald Trump.
Republicans believe that all the state’s financial problems can be solved by eliminating inefficiency. Particularly state university administrative inefficiency.
Odd. They all seemed obsessed by that.
If you mention Governor Rauner, they mention Michael Madigan.
That is the Republican equivalent of “No, you are.”
I asked the entire panel to raise their hands if they were willing to de-couple Governor Rauner’s anti-union Turnaround Agenda from a budget. Everybody raised their hands, including all but one Republican. I assumed they understood the question.
Every Republican (except one) who is challenging an incumbent broke with Rauner on this issue and yet every elected Republican walks lock-step with the Governor on this issue.
Without word of a lie, the fish was five feet long.