By CARL GREEN
East Alton, IL – Democrats and their Labor allies can expect a tidal wave of right wing, anti-Labor money to come into the Metro East in next year’s election, Madison County’s leading Democrat says.
“We’ve got to be united,” said Circuit Clerk Mark Von Nida, who is also the county’s Democratic Party chairman, speaking to the Greater Madison County Federation of Labor on June 22.
“A serious storm is coming, and we’re going to see it in September, October and November of next year.”
Republicans under Governor Bruce Rauner spent millions trying but failing to take over the Metro East legislative contingent in the last election. But they have Rauner’s unlimited money supply, and they’re not giving up, Von Nida said.
“Rauner as governor makes $180 million, not even paying attention to his money. He can afford to work for $1 a year because his money is making $180 million. And he writes a $50 million check to his campaign. That’s unprecedented.
“$50 million represents about twice the amount that all of Labor has put into the governor’s race over the past 20 years. And that’s just a check that he wrote, like you write a check for the mortgage. That’s where we’re at.”
In the last election, Representative Dan Beiser (D-Alton) was a major target. Rauner spent $2 million trying to unseat him but could not. Rauner also spent $2 million to support former Representative Dwight Kay (R-Glen Carbon) but Kay lost to Katie Stuart, a Democrat from Edwardsville. Republicans also expect to target Senator Bill Haine (D-Alton).
$5 MILLION COMING
Von Nida expects all three of those districts to become battlefields.
“Those are districts they think they can get, because of the election results from last time, and we’re going to see $5 million flow into just those three races,” he said.
“The governor matters. This is what he’ll do – he’ll spend $30 million on his campaign, and he’ll spend $20 million trying to knock down the door on the legislature.
“Last time, he spent millions of dollars going after senators and state reps across southern Illinois. And he got a chink in the armor, because he got rid of the veto-proof majority in the Legislature.”
“He doesn’t just want to be governor, he wants to enact his agenda, like in Indiana and Wisconsin. He wants to be governor, but he wants to own enough of the Legislature so he can force them to do what he wants, and that is to take away our rights,” Von Nida said. “This is an existential threat to everybody who cares about economic justice.”
THE PARTY FOR WORKERS
Democrats and their allies have to come together to persuade voters that they share their best interests, he said.
“The message that the Democratic Party has to get across to our voters is that we’re the party that is concerned with your safety, your rights and your ability to stand up when somebody is being unfair to you and have a union you can go to.
“We’re the party that believes we’re better with our neighbors working together, and we’re better with our union brothers and sisters banding together for our rights.”
The difference can be seen in Springfield now, where all Democrats have voted for a state budget that would keep people working and services available only to have them blocked by the governor and his supporters, he said.
“Their intention is not to pass a budget,” he said. “They don’t care about a budget, they care about a right wing billionaire agenda, and that agenda can be boiled down to very simple things. He wants you to feel uncertain about your livelihood. He wants you to feel uncertain about your rights.
“Because if you are feeling uncertain, then he and his friends have leverage. Leverage means making people do what they don’t want to do. Even though they don’t want to do it, they have no choice. That’s what the so-called ‘right-to-work’ is, that’s what getting rid of worker safety is, that’s what all of these things are.”
He concluded: “This is the time that we have to get together. We have to get the best candidates, and we have to decide. You know, the worst of our friends are better than our enemies.”
WHAT PARTY UNITY MEANS
Splits among Democrats on issues such as gun control can only hurt them all, he said.
“I don’t care if they agree with me on guns. We can’t fight that. We’re not going to win. If our candidate is the best one ever on economic justice and then says, ‘I’m for gun control,’ it’s over. The reason Dan Beiser won is because he is an NRA-backed union guy.
“We can’t have those fights about enforcing some kind of purity. We’ve got to be united,” he added. “As a party, we can have lively debate, But we can’t take it personally, and we can’t make enemies out of friends. We’ve got to be united. Strength comes from unity. Unity equals strength, strength equals winning.”