Madigan scraps next month’s Democratic rally at Illinois State Fair – Chicago Tribune
Illinois Democrats have decided to buck a decades-old tradition and cancel next month’s State Fair rally, instead putting the spotlight on an annual morning fundraising brunch.
The Aug. 17 Illinois Democratic County Chairmen’s Association event with more than 1,000 party activists provides a more fitting venue for candidates for governor and other offices to speak, said Steve Brown, spokesman for House Speaker Michael Madigan, who doubles as state Democratic chairman.
“We want the focus to be on the brunch,” Brown said. “If families want to go out and enjoy the fair, we’ll have tickets.”
Madigan traditionally has appeared at the brunch but sometimes has chosen to bypass the fairgrounds festivities afterward.
It’s not the first time the traditional fairgrounds rally for Democrats has been canceled in recent years. In 2013, then-Gov. Pat Quinn dropped the Democrat Day rally a year after he was heavily booed by union members over an unsettled state contract and was forced to cut short his remarks, which could barely be heard. Quinn also canceled the 2014 rally, though he made short remarks from the fair stage.
Traditionally, Democratic officeholders and candidates have made speeches at the morning brunch at a Springfield hotel on the city’s southeast side, driven out to the fairgrounds on the north side and delivered basically the same address — often to many of the same people.
Doug House, president of the county chairmen’s association, said the group is trying to streamline what has often been a series of lengthy speeches, stretching out the length of the event to the point that past brunch attendees sometimes asked when dinner would be served.
This year’s event has no shortage of speakers. Each of the eight announced Democratic governor candidates has a speaking slot. So do the four Democratic statewide officeholders, Speaker Madigan, Senate President John Cullerton and U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin. Minnesota Democratic U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar is the keynote speaker.
The outdoor rallies traditionally have been held on the state fair’s director’s lawn at the fairgrounds. Because the Executive Mansion is being renovated, Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner has moved into the director’s home adjacent to the rally site. Republican Day, officially Governor’s Day, is scheduled for Aug. 16.