In final push, Kamala Harris frames election as fight for democracy and Republicans vow to 'restore' Illinois
CHICAGO - Rallying with Illinois Democrats on Sunday, Vice President Kamala Harris framed the midterm elections as a referendum on abortion rights and the fight for democracy — as the state’s top Republican ticket vowed to oust Democrats and "restore" Illinois.
Harris’ visit to Chicago came a day after President Joe Biden campaigned for congressional Democrats in the suburbs, as the president, with his low approval ratings, has largely avoided some of the most competitive states.
And the visits came at crunch time, as the state’s top candidates tried to push out their final messages. At a Harris-headlined get-out-the-vote rally on the South Side, Pritzker continued to call his opponent, Republican State Sen. Darren Bailey, an extremist who "wants to take us backward." And Bailey, at a Sunday evening Daley Plaza rally, told supporters that he would "restore law and order" and "send J.B. Pritzker packing."
Harris has spent the final days of the race in Democratic strongholds. In Chicago, Harris first spoke to a small audience of the state’s most prominent Asian American politicians and candidates at a Second City Chicago event with the Asian American and Pacific Islanders Victory Fund, warning that there’s a fight ahead for democracy.
"When democracy is intact, it’s extremely strong in what it does to uplift the people. When it’s intact it protects and defends individual rights. It works in the interest of justice and equality and fairness. It’s very strong in that way. The duality is that it is incredibly fragile," Harris said. "It will only be as strong as our willingness to fight for it, and that’s why we’re all here today. Because we are prepared to fight for it."
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Later, Harris joined Pritzker and much of the statewide Democratic ticket at the XS Tennis and Education Foundation on the South Side, calling laws that would criminalize health care providers for providing reproductive health care "immoral."
"Our president has been very clear. We just need two more senators, and he will not let the filibuster get in the way of passing the Women’s Health Protection Act," Harris said to cheers. "Two more senators. Send Tammy Duckworth back to the Senate and we need two more. If you’ve got any neighbors outside of Illinois … call whoever you need to. Remind them what’s at stake."
Biden and former President Barack Obama rallied in Philadelphia on Saturday for John Fetterman, the Pennsylvania Democratic U.S. Senate candidate facing Mehmet Oz in one of the most closely watched races in the country. The tight Senate race could decide control of the chamber. And in the House, Republicans need to flip just five seats to gain power.
At the South Side rally, Pritzker ticked off his accomplishments during the last four years, including expanding child care, increasing funding for education, raising teacher salaries, passing the Reproductive Healthcare Act and passing a massive infrastructure package.
"When it comes to fiscal responsibility, it’s the Democrats that have delivered. Republicans are a bunch of pretenders," Pritzker said. "While they peddle their lies in their fake newspapers, we’re moving the state forward, delivering bigger and better things for the people of our state. To protect our fundamental freedoms and lift up working families, we have to elect pro-labor, pro-choice, pro-voting rights, pro-civil rights candidates up and down the ballot."
Bailey on Sunday held two get-out-the-vote rallies, the first in Roscoe, north of Rockford. At a Sunday evening rally outside the Daley Center, dozens of supporters waved "Fire Pritzker" and Bailey flags. A woman wearing a "Let’s Go Brandon" sweatshirt carried a lanyard photo of Biden — with a mustache drawn on — that read "Joe Stealini." And Illinois Republican Party Chairman Don Tracy said the sound of sirens in downtown Chicago during his speech showed the city was in "crisis." The passing siren came from a Chicago Fire Department ambulance.
"We got to have voter turnout because we know that J.B. Pritzker supporters are disenfranchised with him and their president and it is time to show up and take back Illinois," Bailey said at the rally. "And the hard work starts on Wednesday. That’s when we start rebuilding Illinois."