Rarely does a small town like Altamont get the honor of a visit by a sitting governor. Even more rare is when a small town gets the sitting governor and the top republic challenger for the gubernatorial race in the same room.
On Sunday, March 4, the Effingham County Republican party hosted the 45th Annual Lincoln Day Dinner at the Carriage House Event Center in Altamont. Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner and top republican challenger, State Representative Jeanne Ives (R-Wheaton) both were on hand to speak to the assembled group.
Although the two did not square off in a debate, both spoke for about 15 minutes with the Governor speaking first.
Rauner began his speech by thanking the hosts and stated that Effingham County is one of the best and strongest republican counties in the state.
He went on to discuss his plans for rebuking and ousting the ‘Chicago Democrats,’ mainly Illinois House Speaker Mike Madigan. “We picked up six house seats against Madigan in 2016 and this year I am completely committed to making sure we pick up nine more for the republicans in the House of Representatives. When we do that, we will knock Mike Madigan out of office and he will no longer be speaker,” the governor said as he received a very loud applause from the crowd.
He continued his speech, talking about his stand on term limits for politicians. Rauner stated, “No politician at any level should be allowed to serve for more than about eight years.”
The incumbent governor also made his feelings on forced unions clear when he stated, “I respect peoples’ right to join a union or not join a union.” He also mentioned his work towards the ongoing U.S. Supreme Court case on the issue of requiring membership dues in many industries.
The governor never mentioned his GOP opponent Ives, but rather focused on the November race, running against the democratic opponent, likely JB Pritzker. “I am the only one who can stand up to Madigan and Pritzker and get our state back on track,” he said.
Rauner concluded his speech by repeating “On to victory in November” as he exited the stage to a standing ovation.
He was unable to stick around to field questions and meet constituents as he had another obligation to get to.
This gave his GOP opponent, Jeanne Ives plenty of time to speak and meet with those at the Lincoln Day Dinner.
Ives, after discussing how beautiful the southern half of the state is and how she has enjoyed traveling all over Illinois, immediately went on the attack, boldly criticizing governor Rauner.
“Like many of you, I helped elect Bruce Rauner… I thought he would be the conservative, reform governor we needed to take on the political ruling class. And then very quickly, I became disappointed,” said Ives.
“As a three term representative, I defend the tax-payers,” said quipped.
Ives continued to rail against Rauner, calling him a ‘coward who is too afraid to debate me.’ She claimed that his campaign has told lies about her in their advertising.
The biggest issue that Ives harped on was the legislation passed under Rauner to allow Medicaid-covered abortions, something she said ‘betrays the ideals of the Republican Party.’ She said “We have a Republican governor who is the first governor in the United States to ever put in via legislation taxpayer-funded abortion.”
She continued to talk about five new Planned Parenthood locations opening in the state soon. “Planned Parenthoods are closing all over the country, but Illinois is getting five new ones, all near state boarders. This virtually guarantees that your tax dollars will be going toward paying for out-of-state abortions right here in Illinois.” She continued to call Illinois a ‘Sanctuary State’ and make claims that is has not been the democrats that have made it this way, but Bruce Rauner. She posed the question to the audience, “What are you gonna do about it?”
She closed her speech by claiming “Only I can win for the republicans in November.”
Although the two republicans vying for the GOP nomination in the March 20 primary were the many attraction of the day, the Lincoln Day Dinner also featured republican candidates speaking about elections in the 107th House, 109th House, the 54th Senate, and the Effingham county Treasurers race.
Effingham County Republican Central Committee Chairman Rob Arnold welcomed the crowd and spoke briefly about the Lincoln Day Dinner. Following the Pledge of Allegiance and a prayer, a moment of silence was help in memory of the late Duane Guffey. The meal was catered by Deb’s Catering.