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Vice President Kamala Harris rallies to energize the black vote

On the final Sunday of the general election season, Illinois Democrats, led by Vice President Kamala Harris and Gov. J.B. Pritzker, took aim urge black voters to get to the polls, while Republican gubernatorial candidate Darren Bailey promoted a Christian conservatism that the basis of his company.

Harris’s visit—the country’s first woman, first black, and first South Asian American vice president—came a day after President Joe Biden is stumped for congressional candidates in the Chicago area as Democratic control of Illinois state government faces a test from voters Tuesday.

The Democratic push on Sunday came as political action committee endorsing Bailey’s candidacy aired an ad aimed at suppressing turnout in the Negro community, a reliably Democratic voting bloc. At the same time, the PAC leader initiated the mailing of political letters disguised as newspapers to thousands of homes that used photographs of mostly black crime suspects to heighten the threat of a potential crime wave as a result of the new criminal justice law Pritzker signed.

Harris rallied with Pritzker, other Democratic candidates and several hundred supporters at the Washington Park Tennis Center after appearing with U.S. Sen. Tammy Duckworth and Rep. Raja Krishnamurthy, who are seeking re-election, at an Asian American, Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander voter event. Harris entered the Washington Park event to gospel chants, prompting her to say, “Thank you for bringing the church here today.”

Citing a list of Democratic accomplishments including student loan forgiveness, new efforts to contain prescription drug prices, infrastructure investments and the appointment of Ketanji Brown Jackson, the first black woman to the U.S. Supreme Court, Harris said, “We have a lot good material”.

Echoing a point that Biden and other Democrats have been trying to make in the final weeks of the campaign, Harris also warned that welfare programs such as If Republicans take control of Congress, Medicare and Social Security are at risk. She also said Pritzker and other Illinois Democrats are needed in office to defend abortion rights here.

“When democracy is intact, it is extraordinarily powerful in the power it can give its people to defend and fight for their rights, for equality, for justice. Incredibly strong,” she said. “On the other hand, it’s incredibly fragile. It is only as strong as our willingness to fight for it. And that’s why we will fight.”

Pritzker noted that the Christian school, founded by Bailey, a state senator from Xenia, uses a controversial curriculum published by the conservative Bob Jones University Press.

Governor of Illinois J.  B. Pritzker and Lt. Gov. Julianne Stratton laugh as Vice President Kamala Harris delivers a speech about the upcoming midterm elections at the XS Tennis and Education Foundation on Nov. 6, 2022 in Chicago.

“The school he founded teaches children that slave owners were kind to their slaves and that women are inferior to men. We can’t let him near the governor’s office,” Pritzker said. “Darren Bailey wants to divide Illinois by handing the state over to far-right zealots who want to push a hate-filled agenda.”

Democratic Attorney General Kwame Raoul, who faced a challenge from Republican attorney Tom DeVore, referred to fake newspapers sent by the political action committee and argued that they amounted to fear mongering in the face of Democrats’ efforts to reform the criminal justice system.

“They’re trying to force us not to vote,” said Raul, who is black. “Well, tricks are for kids and Republicans. We vote.”

Before Harris arrived, both Pritzker and Bailey attended Sunday church services, addressing very different audiences.

Pritzker and Lt. Gov. Julianne Stratton, who is the first black woman in the post, visited a half-dozen predominantly black churches on Chicago’s South and West Sides — a traditional Democratic campaign site ahead of Tuesday’s Election Day. Bailey traveled to the far northwest suburbs to speak to a predominantly white congregation at an affluent Baptist megachurch.

Bailey, whose evangelical Christian beliefs are the foundation of his campaign, began Sunday with a prayer on Facebook Live. He read a book in which he argued that the main source of the nation’s moral ills was the church’s lack of involvement in supporting candidates and discussing political issues because of the threat of losing its federal tax-exempt status.

“A silent pulpit means a silent pew. A silent bench creates an uninformed electorate, and an uninformed electorate will not know what He who created civil government has to say about how it should be governed,” Bailey said, reading from Good Knowledge: Biblical Answers to Today’s Hard Problems by James Garlow .

Speaking for himself, as a result of the church’s silence on politics, Bailey said, “I think you will begin to understand why this great nation suffers from the dilemma that we suffer from—too many governments and not enough informed voters.”

Republican gubernatorial candidate and state Sen. Darren Bailey speaks to attendees during a rally outside Daley Plaza on Nov. 6, 2022, in Chicago.

The GOP candidate continued the theme of the church’s political involvement during a speech at Quentin Road Baptist Church in Lake Zurich with his wife, Cindy.

But mostly the pastor the white megachurch had no problem with politics.

Pastor Jim Scudder Jr. raved about Bailey and even told several hundred congregants that he was voting for him when he asked for prayers for candidates “who share conservative values.”

“I think prayer is going to be key in this election, and then everyone should vote. GOOD. I’m not saying who to vote for. I voted for Darren back on Monday,” Scudder told the crowd. “But you have to make a decision, look at the issues and figure out what works best, especially in areas of faith.”

Cindy Bailey told congregants that her husband’s campaign is a “spiritual battle. That’s what really is the lowest cost,” adding, “That’s why we want the church to be informed and educated and involved in this process.”

Darren Bailey recognized Quentin Road Baptist Church leaders and parishioners for their involvement and “doing what you have to do and just getting the message out there about how we’re holding on and rebuilding our constitutional republic.”

“What we can do here can change the course of this nation as we lift up our savior through this process and give him glory, honor (and) restore integrity,” Bailey said. “We have a God-given constitutional republic, and it’s time for the church to stand up and reclaim our freedoms.”

Around the same time, Pritzker, who is Jewish, spoke with parish of New Mount Pilgrim Missionary Baptist Church in West Garfield Park and relied on the phrase “you shall seek justice” from the book of Deuteronomy of the Old Testament to connect with churchgoers.

“When I ran for governor four years ago, that’s why I ran,” Pritzker said. “I ran because it is important to fight a good fight. And I’m running again because we have to continue this fight.”

Governor J.  B. Pritzker joins Dr. Marshall Elijah Hatch and his congregants during a service on the final weekend before Election Day, Nov. 6, 2022, at New Mount Pilgrim Missionary Baptist Church in East Garfield Park in Chicago.

He added: “Everything we care about is under siege right now, whether we’re fighting to end systemic racism, to expand health care or to defeat a deadly pandemic.”

Before leaving, Pritzker touted his efforts to raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour by 2025, which he said benefits black women more than any other group, as well as increased funding for state police and measures to make health care is more affordable, including limiting the cost of insulin.

“We need to build on the progress we’ve already made on civil rights, voting rights, economic rights, women’s rights,” Pritzker said. “All these things can be taken away.”

After the governor’s departure, the Rev. Marshall Hatch Jr. told his congregation that the two main issues of this election — crime and inflation — have “racial overtones and undertones.

“Continued outrage over crime is really a push for ‘policing and incarceration on steroids’, while worries about inflation are fueled by critics saying ‘too much’ of pandemic aid ‘has gone to people who normally get nothing, Hatch said.

Without naming Republicans specifically, Hatch said the candidates raising these issues want to move “in a direction that is designed to leave us behind.”

Pritzker dismissed as “racist” the efforts of Dan Proft, a right-wing radio host who runs Bailey’s People Who Play by the Rules party and is involved in fake newspaper mailings.

Proft PAC blamed Pritzker in one of its latest ads, which seeks to remind black voters of comments Pritzker made in 2008 during a phone conversation secretly recorded by federal law enforcement. with the then Hon. Rod Blagoevich.

In tapes released by the Tribune during the 2018 Democratic gubernatorial primary, Pritzker called Secretary of State Jesse White the “least offensive” of several black politicians to fill the U.S. Senate seat vacated by Barack Obama’s promotion to the presidency. Pritzker also called then-Illinois Senate President Emil Jones Jr. “gross” and then-U.S. Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. a “nightmare.”

Pritzker dismissed the attack ad, saying, “People are smarter than that ad.”

Republican gubernatorial candidate and state Sen. Darren Bailey speaks to attendees during a rally outside Daley Plaza on Nov. 6, 2022, in Chicago.

Bailey ended the day with a rally in the afternoon at Chicago’s Daley Plaza. But due to some disorganization, his company had to compete for space with an installation for the annual Christkindlmarket event.

The company ended up setting up shop under an outdoor roof near the Dearborn Street entrance to the Daley Center, and about five dozen fans had to squeeze together to keep from blocking the sidewalk from passersby.

“Who’s Ready for a Safer Chicago?” Bailey screamed as his fans cheered. “Here’s the deal, we have to have voter turnout because we know JB’s supporters are disenfranchised with him and their president and it’s time to show up and take Illinois back and the hard work starts on Wednesday. That’s when we’ll start rebuilding Illinois.”


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