SPRINGFIELD — The state’s elected constitutional officers — all of whom are Democrats — took to the Illinois State Fairgrounds on Wednesday for Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s first Governor’s Day Picnic.
The event followed a gathering of more than 2,000 Democrats, including U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, at a Springfield hotel earlier in the day.
While Pritzker said he invited Republicans in an effort to break tradition and make the Governor’s Day event “bipartisan,” none appeared with the governor or his fellow constitutional officers during their public remarks.
“Well they were sent invitations …,” Pritzker said during a media interview after his public remarks. “A number of them said they were surprised when they opened up the invitation. … But look, … I’ve tried to bring back bipartisanship in this state. It’s important to me that we all work together. We have too many challenges in the state for us to be divided and working against each other.”
Earlier, U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi was keynote speaker at the annual Democratic County Chairs' Association brunch.
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In his public remarks, Pritzker touted the success of the fair and said this year’s grandstand ticket sales set an all-time record high.
He was followed by Secretary of State Jesse White, the 85-year-old who has held the post since 1999. White said he was asked if he would serve out the full four-year term he was just elected to or if he would step down halfway through.
“I used to jump out of airplanes. I did 35 jumps with the 101st Airborne Division,” he said. “And when you jump out of an airplane, you never jump and stop halfway, it’s all the way.”
Treasurer Mike Frerichs plugged college and retirement savings programs and the Achieving a Better Life Experience savings programs for people with disabilities and their families, all of which can be found at illinoistreasurer.gov.
Comptroller Susana Mendoza publicized a recent executive order she signed to focus on enforcing the prevailing wage in light of a new capital infrastructure bill, and Attorney General Kwame Raoul focused on enforcing a recent minimum wage increase and working on reducing gun violence among other initiatives.
He said his office established a violence protection unit to “keep and collect and provide law enforcement with data” to “bring to justice” people who traffic guns into the wrong hands.
During a media interview after the public remarks, Raoul declined comment on pending legal issues faced by state Sen. Tom Cullerton, a Villa Park Democrat who was recently indicted on federal charges of embezzling money from a labor union.
He also declined to comment as to whether Republican U.S. President Donald Trump should commute the sentence of former Democratic Gov. Rod Blagojevich, who is in the middle of a 14-year sentence for various corruption charges.
“I’m really not paying much attention to that. I have so much other matters to pay attention to,” he said.
The same Director’s Lawn will play host to the state GOP Thursday for its annual Republican Day Rally.
As of close of business Tuesday, the grandstand had received $2,099,435 in revenue, breaking the all-time record of $2,082,078 set in 2016.