Republicans Rally To Rebuild; But Where's The Diversity?

Aug 19, 2015

Gov. Bruce Rauner spoke to Republican county chairs at their meeting Wednesday morning.
Credit Amanda Vinicky

A budget impasse lingers, but hasn't interrupted politicians' big rallies at the Illinois State Fair. Democrats will have their chance tomorrow but today was Republicans' chance.

Republicans are still relishing capturing the governor's office for the first time in a dozen years.

"Are you guys ready? I don't see you guys standing! We need to be lit for this," Lt. Gov. Evelyn Sanguinetti said, as she introduced Gov. Bruce Rauner, prompting the crowd to rise to their feet.

"Let's rebuild our party. Let's get this Turnaround agenda accomplished by working together and fighting. We'll restore the pride and the prosperity in our home!," Rauner said. "We're going to make some big chances this year, we're going to make big changes to help improve the quality of your lives. But the changes won't stick unless we're a two-party for the state for the long term. That means we've got to rebuild, and strengthen, energize our Republican Party."

Rauner says the state has suffered with Democrats like House Speaker Michael Madigan in charge.

The day wasn't all corndogs and clapping. Hunderds of protesters, who were kept out of the rally, tried to interrupt with "boos" at Rauner and his proposed cuts. The members of S.E.I.U. Local 73 union say it's Rauner who is hurting Illinois, with his cuts to services like child care assistance and home care for the disabled.

The rally took place after a morning breakfast, and a meeting of the GOP's county chairs.

Nearly every person in attendance at both events was white.

When asked about the lack of diversity, Sanguinetti said her party is doing a lot of outreach.

"Our party is the party of yes, it is the party of opportunity," she said.

When prodded by a reporter who asked "Would you say the outreach is working at this point, or not working? I don't see much evidence," Sanguinetti said "Well, you're seeing it in me, you're seeing it in the efforts we're doing, you're going to be seeing changes in years to come. We're doing a lot of outreach efforts."

Sanguinetti says the GOP elected her, as the first Latina lieutenant governor in the nation.