Pritzker barnstorms the suburbs as race against Bailey heats up

Gov. J.B. Pritzker used the suburbs and a major trade union Wednesday as backdrops to tout his labor-friendly platform and poke his gubernatorial rival, Republican state Sen. Darren Bailey.

"Thanks to your support we've transformed Illinois into the most pro-labor state in the nation," Pritzker told a crowd of workers at the Mid-America Carpenters Regional Council offices in Elk Grove Village. It was the Chicago Democrat's first stop on a statewide "Working Families" five-day bus tour.

Pritzker credited the state's $45 billion capital plan, which includes tax incentives for data centers, for stimulating the economy and creating jobs in locations like Elk Grove Village.

"But there's still more to do. This November, a Workers Rights Amendment is on the ballot that would make union organizing a constitutional right and stop Republican efforts to eliminate collective bargaining," he said.

The amendment, a referendum on the Nov. 8 ballot, has been criticized by groups including the Illinois Policy Institute as giving too much power to unions and likely to result in higher taxes.

Bailey, a conservative Republican farmer from downstate Xenia, "does not believe in your right to collective bargaining for fair wages and better work conditions," Pritzker told the crowd.

Bailey, for his part, has said that "Gov. Pritzker wouldn't know a hard day's work if it slapped him across the face." He challenged the governor "to come down to my farm and spend a day planting, plowing and harvesting."

Welcoming Pritzker to the event was Mid-America Carpenters Executive Secretary-Treasurer Gary Perinar, whom the governor appointed to the tollway board with two other union leaders in 2019.

"I think the governor knows where the carpenters stand," Perinar said, nothing the trade union was the first in 2018 to endorse Pritzker.

Asked about putting three union officials on the tollway's board, which has nine acting directors, Pritzker said, "I think having people with real experience actually building toll roads ... is important."

Retired carpenter Jim Knaack traveled from Grayslake to see Pritzker. "He's pro-union. That's what we need to keep these jobs going," Knaack said.

Meanwhile, controversy continued Wednesday over an anti-Pritzker ad sponsored by the conservative People Who Play By The Rules PAC that states "Chicago violence is coming to the suburbs" and shows footage of crime.

Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot has alleged that a clip of her speaking in the ad darkens her skin. "News flash. I'm Black and I'm proud," she said in a statement. "Everyone knows it. No need to use cheap tricks to darken my skin and try to scare voters with false narratives about Chicago."

According to the Center for Illinois Politics, the PAC is funded by Uline founder Richard Uihlein, who also is a major Bailey donor. PAC organizers told the Sun-Times they had not altered the mayor's image.

Bailey "cannot be the governor of this great state by using racist tropes against Black Chicago," said Lightfoot, who has feuded with the senator over his calling Chicago a "hellhole."

Bailey responded Tuesday by saying, "With the murders, crime, shootouts, gang violence and tragedies that are happening in Chicago left and right, it's a wonder Mayor Lightfoot would dedicate any time at all attacking our campaign instead of focusing on making Chicago a better place."

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  Gov. J.B. Pritzker, right, greets members of the Mid-America Carpenters Regional Council on Wednesday morning in Elk Grove Village. Marni Pyke/
  Gov. J.B. Pritzker tours the Mid-America Carpenters Regional Council headquarters Wednesday morning in Elk Grove Village with first lady MK Pritzker, union official Gary Perinar and Lt. Gov. Juliana Stratton, far right. Marni Pyke/
  Mid-America Carpenters Regional Council Executive Secretary-Treasurer Gary Perinar introduces Gov. J.B. Pritzker at a rally Wednesday morning in Elk Grove Village. Marni Pyke/
Gov. J.B. Pritzker kicked off his Working Families bus tour Wednesday morning in Elk Grove Village. Courtesy of Pritzker campaign
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