BLOOMINGTON — After months of attacks about his own property taxes, Democratic governor nominee J.B. Pritzker is turning the tables on Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner.
"He wanted to raise property taxes across the state, push down a billion dollars of state expenditures to local governments to raise property taxes across the state," said Pritzker of a Rauner proposal to make school districts and universities responsible for their own pension costs. "This governor doesn't know how to govern, and it's time for a change."
Rauner has hit Pritzker, a Chicago heir to the Hyatt hotel chain, for getting a property tax break on a mansion on the grounds that a neighboring property Pritzker also owned was uninhabitable after its toilets were disconnected. Pritzker has said he was renovating the property and described the tax appeal as routine.
Pritzker was the final speaker, but perhaps not the main attraction, for more than 100 people who packed his downtown Bloomington campaign headquarters on McLean County Democrat Day, a prelude to Thursday's statewide Democrat Day at the Illinois State Fair in Springfield.
The greatest ovation was for U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin, who is not on the Nov. 6 ballot but endorsed many Democrats who are, including Pritzker, Congressional candidate Betsy Dirksen Londrigan of Springfield and McLean County Clerk nominee Nikita Richards of Bloomington.
"Governors of both political parties have called on me for a helping hand. ... I have yet to receive the first phone call from this governor," Durbin said of Rauner. "That's a lost opportunity — for me, for the state — and it reflects that what we're talking about in this election is not just a matter of changing the name of the governor. It's changing the course of the state of Illinois."
Durbin said the best way to bring change to Washington, D.C., during Republican President Donald Trump's term is to elect Democrats to the House and Senate. Londrigan, a one-time Durbin fundraiser, is running against incumbent Republican U.S. Rep. Rodney Davis of Taylorville in the 18th Congressional District that includes part of the Twin Cities.
"The question I get asked in this election cycle (that) I've never run into before (is), 'Are we gonna be all right? Is American going be all right?'" he said. "The answer is, when it gets down to it, the vast majority of American people share the same bedrock values. They're not the values of fear and hate."
Richards and Erik Rankin, chair of the McLean County Democratic Party, spoke about how local elected officials can help. Richards is running against County Clerk Kathy Michael, a three-term Republican.
"The first line of defense in defending these core values is local government. That's why I decided to run," said Richards.
Libertarian Kash Jackson and Conservative Party candidate Sam McCann are also running for governor.