Illinois Dems oppose 2024 Chicago convention as party chairman vote looms

SPRINGFIELD — Democrats in Illinois are vying to make Chicago the host city of the Democratic National Convention in 2024 while considering who will lead their party for the next four years.

Meanwhile, the state’s Republican Party is hearing calls for censure from one of its sitting congressmen.

Democratic National Committee officials were in Chicago on Tuesday as heads of state, including Governor JB Pritzker and Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot, called a press conference to pitch the city as a potential nominating convention host. Democrats in 2024.

DNC Chairman Jaime Harrison said at a Tuesday morning press conference in Chicago that the committee is looking for a city that represents diversity, inclusion and opportunity. He said it would be the first major showcase for President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris, who did not have a convention in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Other finalist cities include New York, Atlanta and Houston.

Pritzker, whose name has come up often in conversation as a potential Biden replacement if he doesn’t run in 2024, said he sees the convention as an opportunity “to show off” the city, which “represents what that Joe Biden and Kamala Harris represents.

“This is what it looks like when Americans vote for leaders who support hard-working families,” Pritzker said, citing “policies of fair minimum wages, expanded voting rights, protection of civil rights and human rights, and defense of the right to choose”. ”

Pritzker said the convention would bring “thousands of well-paying, labor-friendly jobs” and 50,000 visitors to the state. Lightfoot estimated it could generate between $150 million and $200 million in spending in the local economy.

She also cited the city’s familiarity with large-scale events, as well as its infrastructure, location, and the state’s “unified leadership” as reasons why Chicago should host the convention.

But the press conference came just four days before a contentious vote in which Democrats will choose the state party leader for the next four years. The position is currently held by Congresswoman Robin Kelly of Matteson. She won that title in March 2021 against Pritzker’s favorite contender, Chicago Ald. Michael Harris.

Kelly was elected to replace former Speaker of the State House Michael Madigan, who resigned last year after failing to secure another term as Speaker of the House. He served as the state party leader from April 1998 to February 2021.

The party’s state central committee, made up of 17 men and 17 women from the state’s congressional districts, is scheduled to vote Saturday in Springfield on whether Kelly would stay on as party leader for another four-year term. Each committee member’s vote is weighted by the number of Democratic ballots cast in the congressional district.

Because Kelly is a sitting congresswoman, she is unable to fundraise for candidates in state races, although she has no restrictions on fundraising for federal races. While the party has created a fundraising committee for state races, the issue of fundraising remains a key point of contention.

Latest campaign documents from the Illinois Democratic Party state fund show it raised $1.72 million in the quarter ending June 30, of which $1.5 million was transferred from Pritzker campaign funds. The party’s state fund spent $10,424.47 for the quarter that ended June 30, excluding Pritzker-funded shippers. During the previous quarter, the DPI State Fund spent $11,240.06. His balance as of June 30 was $2.8 million.

But the party also maintains a federal fund registered with the Federal Election Commission, and DPI spokesman Jake Lewis said the party has raised more than $2 million since Kelly took over as party chairman between both funds, not counting transfers from Pritzker.

“Under Robin Kelly’s leadership, the Illinois Democratic Party has been overhauled from the ground up, with new employees and vendors, improved data and technology services, party planners, an active communications boutique, and more,” he said in an email. “Chairman Kelly’s vision for the party is one that serves all Democrats in our state, beyond a single candidate or caucus, and we will continue to drive our party forward.”

“We encourage Democrats to focus on the issues that matter to the people of this state, like defending our basic rights and defeating Republicans in November,” Lewis added.

Pritzker, meanwhile, backs state Rep. Lisa Hernandez, D-Cicero, the deputy majority leader at the State House who carried recent congressional and state redistricting bills through the Assembly. general.

House Speaker Emanuel “Chris” Welch also backs Hernandez.

“It means having a chair that can fundraise for all Democratic candidates,” Welch said in a statement.

Welch said Hernandez’s “vision” would be to create a new role for Kelly as “federal president.”

“They can work in partnership to move the party forward,” he said in the statement. “That’s how the Democrats are getting more support as we face two Supreme Court races, dozens of legislative campaigns and more up-and-down ballot races.”

Welch said it was “essential” that the state party leader be able to raise and spend funds that support all Democratic candidates in the state.

“At the moment, DPI does not and cannot do it. If a change of direction happens, it will,” he said.

The powerful AFL-CIO Federation of Labor released a statement shortly after Welch also backed Hernandez.

Kelly told NBC News she was “disappointed” with Pritzker’s lack of support, but she appeared alongside the governor and other members of Congress at the morning event on Tuesday, and the governor played down the intra-party tensions.

“Well, let’s be clear: we are all here in unison to defend a Democratic convention for Chicago and for the state of Illinois,” Pritzker said.

“And I think, as the president (Kelly) said so eloquently, after Saturday we will have a president of the Illinois Democratic Party, whoever it is, for a four-year term” , he added. noting that Democrats would rally around the chair for the next four years.

U.S. Senator Dick Durbin remains Kelly’s most important supporter.

Republicans, meanwhile, faced their own tensions within the party as state lawmakers from the conservative group Freedom Caucus called on the party to censure U.S. Representative Adam Kinzinger, R-Channahon, for his role as President Donald Trump’s virulent criticism of the United States. House committee investigating the January 6 attack on the United States Capitol.

State Representatives Chris Miller, Brad Halbrook, Dan Caulkins, Adam Niemerg and Blaine Wilhour — some of GOP gubernatorial candidate Darren Bailey’s closest allies in the Illinois General Assembly — have called on the state party to censor Kinzinger and called the January 6 hearings “a sham without any due process.”

The state party released a statement saying it was “focused on uniting the party to defeat Governor Pritzker in November and make Illinois a safe and affordable place for people.”

Bailey, at a press conference called to criticize the governor’s handling of the state’s Department of Child and Family Services, did not respond directly whether he thought Kinzinger should be censured.

“I dealt with Adam Kinzinger on my own,” he said. “I made my statements. I don’t agree with anything Adam Kinzinger stands for. And I made the statement.

Editor’s Note: This story has been updated from an original version with comment from a DPI spokesperson and to more accurately reflect the limitations of Kelly’s fundraising.

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