Despite pervasive friction rocking what they see as their big tent, Illinois’ top Democrats have agreed on a coordinated campaign structure for November’s general election aimed at keeping Illinois a state. single party.
“Organizing Illinois 2022” is the theme of the operation announced Monday, Illinois Democratic Party officials told the Tribune. The unified campaign will be led by the state’s Democratic Party and will be chaired by Secretary of State Jesse White. White is not seeking re-election after serving as secretary of state since 1999 while being a top voter in the state.
The announcement of a coordinated campaign represents a new milestone for the Illinois Democratic Party organization since the departure of former House Speaker Michael Madigan, who served as the party’s chairman from 1998 until his resignation. in February 2021.
Madigan pleaded not guilty to federal racketeering charges brought against him in March in connection with utility giant Commonwealth Edison’s admission that he gave contracts, legal cases and jobs requiring little or no work to friends and political allies of Madigan in hopes that he would look favorably on the company’s Springfield agenda.
Under Madigan, the state party became a largely insular institution in which its primary goal was to elect House Democrats who would support it to remain in the presidency. Other Democratic candidates, meanwhile, have often been left to their own devices for campaign coordination. The party’s most valuable asset under Madigan was its wholesale-rate postage meter, which non-House candidates had to pay to use for lower-cost campaign mailings.
But since Madigan’s departure, the party has sought to reorganize and create a structure more in line with other Democratic organizations in the state. That work began under the party’s new chairman, U.S. Representative Robin Kelly de Matteson, who took over in March last year.
The coordinated campaign will involve data sharing, communications plans, voter engagement, voting and vote-by-mail strategies, as well as multi-candidate mailings and legal assistance to the polls to support Democratic candidates across voting. It represents the latest development in Kelly’s party outreach strategy, party officials said.
“The upcoming midterm elections are absolutely critical to ensuring our state continues on the right path and Organize Illinois 2022 stands ready to support our Democratic candidates as we bring voters to the polls in November,” White said in a statement. published in the Tribune.
“This coordinated campaign will benefit all Democratic candidates by effectively utilizing shared resources, data and messaging to ensure Illinois remains a beacon for our shared values,” White said. “We have all seen how extreme Republicans in Illinois have become. Illinois Democrats can and will fight back with a united front at all levels. »
The coordinated campaign was signed by Democratic Gov. JB Pritzker, U.S. Senses Tammy Duckworth and Dick Durbin, House Speaker Emanuel “Chris” Welch of Hillside, Senate Speaker Don Harmon of Oak Park, and elected officials from the state seeking re-election.
The program is also expected to support candidates for secretary of state and the U.S. House once voters select candidates for the June 28 primary.
The program is notable not only for having launched before the primary, but also for having been endorsed by all major Democrats as a state party operation under Kelly.
Pritzker, the billionaire entrepreneur and heir to the Hyatt hotel fortune, is expected to fund the operation under Kelly, although last year she was not his pick for the state’s Democratic presidency. Pritzker gave hints that he may not support Kelly for a full term as party chairman when the Democratic State Central Committee meets after the primary.
Durbin has backed Kelly for president, and his allies on the state’s central committee support his re-election as party leader. Kelly announced that she would seek re-election to chair the party organization at the end of last month.