Civil rights leader John Lewis stumps for Brendan Kelly, Kwame Raoul

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GET OUT THE VOTE: Urging voters to get to the polls on Nov. 6 (from left), Brendan Kelly, candidate in Illinois’ 12th Congressional District, Congressman John Lewis (D-GA), and Illinois State Senator and candidate for attorney general. Kwame Raoul met with some 600 voters at a get-out-the-vote rally in East St. Louis last week to discuss the importance of voting int the Nov. 6 midterms. – Labor Tribune photo

Urges voters, particularly minority voters, to get to the polls Nov. 6

By CARL GREEN

Illinois Correspondent

East St. Louis – Georgia Congressman and longtime civil rights leader John Lewis came here recently to stump for Brendan Kelly for the Illinois 12th Congressional District, and Kwame Raoul for Illinois state attorney general, and to urge Democrats to vote in November.

Kelly and Raoul have both been endorsed by the Illinois AFL-CIO.

More than 600 people turned out to hear Lewis speak at a get-out-the-vote rally Oct. 16 at New Life Community Church in East St. Louis.

The 12th has become something of a swing district – President Obama won there twice before President Trump won it in 2016 – and it is seen as crucial to Democrats’ efforts to regain control of the House of Representatives. To do that, Democrats will need to flip 23 seats.

“It’s time for each and every one of you to go to the polls,” Lewis said. “We’ve got to save our country. We’ve got to save our democracy. Not for ourselves, but for our children and their children and generations yet unborn.”

A leader in the Civil Rights Movement, Lewis co-founded the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, helped organize the 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, led non-violent protests alongside the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and was arrested and severely beaten on many occasions for standing against Jim Crow laws and insisting on black Americans’ right to vote. Lewis has represented Georgia’s 5th Congressional District since 1986.

‘IT TAKES COURAGE’

“It takes courage to cross a bridge,” Kelly said. “Fifty-three years ago, Congressman Lewis was crossing a bridge in a town called Selma. He got to the top of that bridge, and he saw violence ahead, the people ahead on the side of injustice, rather than justice. But he kept marching forward. He showed the courage we need to be able to cross that bridge.

“We don’t have that kind of courage in the United States Congress right now,” Kelly said. “But I know that all of you have that courage we need to move the country forward. Because this election is not about me, or the power of any leader. This election is about your power. YOU will decide this election, and save Southern Illinois.”

‘It’s time for each one of you to go to the polls,” said Georgia congressman and longtime civil rights leader John Lewis at a get-out-the-vote rally last week in East St. Louis. – Labor Tribune photo

IMPARTIAL RECORD

As St. Clair County State’s Attorney, Kelly has pursued justice against Democrats and Republicans alike without partisan favor. He has demonstrated a willingness to criticize his own party’s leadership and has pledged to address the district’s most pressing infrastructure, veterans affairs and health care needs.

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch endorsed Kelly last week over Republican incumbent Mike Bost.

“Kelly is the person best suited to represent all 12th District constituents instead of just those loyal to one party,” the Post said. “Bost marches in lockstep with the GOP leadership, which he has supported 96 percent of the time.”

PROTECTING VOTING RIGHTS

Raoul currently serves in the Illinois Senate, where he has sponsored some of the strongest voting rights laws in the nation, including the 2011 Illinois Voting Rights Act and a state constitutional amendment prohibiting discrimination against eligible voters seeking to register to vote or cast a ballot, regardless of race, national origin or sexual orientation.

He also sponsored legislation – which Governor Bruce Rauner vetoed – to take Illinois out of the Crosscheck voter information database, which has proven vulnerable to hacking and the disfranchisement of qualified voters.

“Congressman Lewis is one of our nation’s foremost living heroes, and there is no better voice to communicate the importance of voting, the sacrifices that have been made for the right to vote, and what’s at stake in this election,” Raoul said. “It’s an honor to stand today with him and Brendan Kelly.”

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Kelly slaps back, tells Bost to stop lying about his record

Belleville, IL – Brendan Kelly has a message for Republican Congressman Mike Bost: “Quit lying about my record!”

Kelly recently met with reporters to debunk Bost’s TV and online advertisements that claim Kelly has been a “liberal” on crime in his eight years as St. Clair County State’s Attorney.

Kelly (D-Swansea) is challenging Bost in his re-election bid for Illinois’s 12th Congressional District in the Nov. 6 election. He has been endorsed by the Illinois AFL-CIO.

Bost’s ads claim Kelly “pled out” over half of his criminal cases including some involving sexual assault or domestic abuse.

But Kelly – joined by a group of women that included prosecutors of sex crimes and domestic violence cases and one survivor of domestic violence – says the claims are untrue.

Kelly said the ads show Bost, fearful of losing his re-election bid, has turned his faltering campaign over to House Speaker Paul Ryan’s Republican Leadership Fund super-PAC, which created the TV spot.

“We have always put the survivor first. We have always fought for victims first,” Kelly said. “With these ads – with this politicization of this difficult issue – I am afraid that my opponent is now putting himself first.”

FACT-CHECK

Politifact Illinois fact-checked the ad and rated it “pants on fire,” or an outright lie.

Steve Savard of KMOV Channel 4 noted that most criminal cases end in guilty-plea agreements. The national rate of plea agreements in criminal cases is 97 percent, Savard reported. In Illinois rate is 95 percent. If Kelly’s rate has been 50 percent, it would make him the toughest prosecutor since Wyatt Earp patrolled in Deadwood.

Savard noted that the police officer featured making accusations in the ad is actually a Republican political candidate – Nick Gailius, the just-retired Fairview Heights police chief who is running for sheriff.

WSIL of Carbondale showed how the ad misled in its editing of a statement Kelly made in an interview. In the ad, Kelly is heard saying, “As prosecutors, our goal is not a conviction.” WSIL ran the actual statement which was: “As prosecutors, our goal is not a conviction, our goal is not to make an example necessarily of anybody. Our goal, first and foremost, is justice.”

FAKE NEWS

The domestic violence survivor, Leticia Cross, said Kelly and his staff were vital in helping her recover from her experience and that she strongly resents Bost’s “fake news” commercial.

“I really don’t like it when I see something using survivors like me to protect their positions,” she said. “This has been one of the hardest things I’ve ever done. But due to all the support I was given, I have been able to successfully move forward with my life. I can say, ‘I’m a survivor.’”

Kristi Flint, a former prosecutor in the county’s Special Victim’s Unit, said Bost’s ad makes things worse for the crime victims by telling them their cases may be described in political advertising.

“Not only does Mike Bost’s false ad politicize the serious issue of assault, but he is making it harder for survivors to come forward and get the help they so desperately need,” she said.

“We are speaking directly to Congressman Bost: ‘Stop trying to take advantage of other people’s painful experiences to advance your own political career. Take these ads down and start using your office to help survivors of sexual assault rather

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