CHICAGO – Signs carried by hundreds of protesters outside of a recent fundraiser for Bruce Rauner, multi-multi-millionaire Republican candidate for governor of Illinois, summed up the stakes in the upcoming election: “Rauner and Christie-bad for minimum wage workers, bad for schools, bad for seniors, bad for gun control, bad for pensions.” Embattled New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, who is chairman of the Republican Governors Association, brought checks to the July 25 fundraiser totaling $4 million for this important race. But Rauner himself has put in more than that. And hedge fund manager Ken Griffin has given Rauner more than $3.5 million. In reply, demonstrators shouted, “Illinois is not for sale.”
Citizen Action-Illinois, a progressive consumer coalition of unions, community groups and public officials, organized the protest.
Among the protesters was Garrett Evans who was shot but survived the Virginia Tech massacre. Although Evans graduated with a double major in economics and statistics, he is dedicating his life to saving other people by keeping military-style assault weapons off the streets. Evans was protesting a statement Rauner made in a televised debate. Rauner said it is a constitutional right to own assault weapons and to use them as you see fit on your own property or for target practice. In contrast, Governor Pat Quinn, a Democrat running for re-election, supports a Cook County November referendum to ban assault weapons.
Raising the minimum wage was a major issue at the protest. Governor Pat Quinn is campaigning for an increase. An advisory referendum to increase the state minimum wage to $10.00 will be on the Illinois ballot in November. In contrast, Rauner wants to lower the current minimum of $8.25 back down to the federal $7.25, which protesters say shows he is totally out of touch with Illinois voters on this issue. For example, $15 an hour received 87 percent of the vote in ten Chicago precincts in the March 2014 primary election.
Students and seniors
Chicago Teachers Union at the rally exposed Rauner’s attacks on public education and public workers’ unions. The teachers also demanded funding, not cutting public workers’ pensions. On senior issues, ILARA, Illinois Alliance for Retired Americans, joined the protest to expose Rauner’s attacks on Medicare. Rauner wants to destroy Medicare by turning it into a voucher system. The group also protested Rauner’s tea party program July 31. There the IL ARA celebrated the 49th anniversary of Medicare by protesting Rauner’s plot to voucherize Medicare. They will also expose Rauner’s failure to pay Medicare or Social Security taxes in 2010 or 2011, despite reporting an income of $55 million for that period.
Photo: Protesters bring attention to the anti-people positions of Republicans Chris Christie and Bruce Rauner, July 25, in Chicago (via Citizen Action-Illinois).