Democrats rally base by linking rivals to Trump as election season heats up

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SPRINGFIELD -- Illinois Democrats rallied their base by linking Governor Rauner to Donald Trump while promoting candidates further down the ballot Thursday at the Illinois State Fair.

“What is it that would bring us together?”  House Speaker Michael Madigan asked at a party breakfast Thursday morning.

“I think we can come together in opposition to the extremism of Donald Trump. Number two, I think we could all come together in opposition to the extremism of Bruce Rauner,” Madigan said.

Madigan also seemed to declare victory in the battle over Governor Rauner’s union-weakening agenda.

“His changes to workers’ compensation, collective bargaining, and minimum wage failed,” Madigan said.

The Democrats also used the day to showcase their candidates on the ballot this fall.  Among them: Representative Tammy Duckworth, who is trying to unseat U.S. Senator Mark Kirk. She says Kirk is running away from his conservative record.

"He does it every time when he’s up for an election and the rest of the time he’s back to being a reliable Republican vote," Duckworth said.

Also, Chicago City Clerk Susana Mendoza is challenging State Comptroller Leslie Munger. Today, she responded to Munger’s call to end paychecks for state lawmakers until they pass a budget.

"It’s just politics at play. She knows there’s no chance that her new proposal will ever pass in the legislature," Mendoza said.

The race for governor isn’t until 2018 but it’s already gaining attention. U.S. Senator Dick Durbin’s name has been mentioned. But he says he’s focused on his current job.

“What we’ve gone through now has been disastrous in the last couple of years – just disastrous and it’s clear that we need new leadership, better leadership in this state. I’ve got a good job in Washington representing the state of Illinois,” Durbin said.

Another possible Democratic contender is former Governor Pat Quinn. But he only wants to talk about his current project.

“I’m back to the future. This is a petition to put term limits on the mayor of Chicago. We’re getting lots and lots of signatures. That’s what I like doing right now,” Quinn said.

Notice neither man has ruled out running. The State Fair is wrapping up, and now it’s time to kick off campaign season.