Just the Beginning

As every good politician knows, elections don’t happen overnight. And preparations for the 2024 election have been underway for a while.

On August 15-16, some of the KCDW members attended the 2023 Illinois Dems County Chairs Annual Brunch. It all began on Tuesday afternoon as we journeyed down to Springfield and checked into our hotels for a night of rallies and inspiring speeches.

Our first stop on Tuesday evening was at Ad Astra Wine Bar on Adams Street, which held a fundraiser to support Lt. Governor Juliana Stratton. The bar was overflowing so we sat outside and talked to politicians and campaign managers from all over the state. A little later, we walked a few blocks to the Down-Ballot Hoedown at Floyd’s Thirst Parlor, which was hosted by Congresswoman Lauren Underwood and Chair Lisa Hernandez. Both of them spoke about the importance of local races in our daily lives and the need to support school and library candidates and speak out against book bans and attacks on curriculum and public schools.

Our final event on Tuesday night was a party hosted by Kane County Dems at the Wyndham Hotel where numerous state politicians talked about the bills that the IL General Assembly has passed, including the SAFE-T-ACT, the Worker’s Rights Amendment,  a ban on assault weapons, preschool and kindergarten educational legislation, and securing women’s rights to make choices about reproductive health. Secretary of State Alexi Giannoulias concluded the remarks by saying that “Democrats don’t ban books. Regimes ban books.” 

The culmination of the trip was the chairs brunch on Wednesday morning, which included a slate of state and national leaders. The keynote speaker was U.S. Senator Catherine Cortez Masto, who is the first Latina in the U.S. Senate and the first woman to represent Nevada in Congress. In Congress, she continues to advocate for legislation on gun control, women’s rights, and control of harmful emissions. She has also introduced legislation on issues that she worked on in Nevada: the end of child trafficking, elder abuse, domestic violence, and protection for Native Americans and Alaskan Natives who have been victims of exploitation and human trafficking.

Masto was followed by Lt. Governor Juliana Stratton who quoted Ida B. Wells’ remarks on the race riot that occurred in Springfield in August 1908. Ida said that “the way to right wrongs is to turn the light of truth upon them.” And Stratton recommended that we need to use the light of truth today to point out the MAGA lies and stop injustice.  Governor Pritzker was the final speaker, and he summarized by pointing out the contrasts between IL and nearby states. Instead of creating fear in women, Pritzker emphasized that Illinois is a safe haven for women seeking help, and instead of denying the history of slavery in the U.S. and firing teachers who dare to speak the truth, Pritzker stated that American history will be taught in IL schools in full technicolor instead of being whitewashed as Republicans are doing in other states. On the subject of banning books, Pritzker said that IL has banned book banning, and Illinois was chosen to host the Democratic National Convention next year because the state serves as a “beacon lighting the path” for other states. Pritzker ended by saying that Illinois “is Barbie when everyone else is just Ken.”