By CARL GREEN
Collinsville – U.S. Sen. Richard “Dick” Durbin, the senior senator from Illinois and Senate majority whip, visited the Metro East last week to talk about voter turnout.
Speaking at an event hosted by SouthWestern Illinois Democratic Women at the Doubletree in Collinsville,
Durbin, presented some startling election statistics.
In Illinois, he said, about 5.1 million people vote in a presidential election year, but only about 3.6 million do so in an off-year Congressional election, such as this year.
Of the 1.5 million who drop out of the off-year election, Durbin said, about 1.2 million are Democrats — generally young voters, Hispanics, African-Americans and women.
“They’re not Republicans, they’re not even undecided. Those are our voters,” Durbin told the assembly, which happened to be youthful, diverse and mostly female.
“In Madison County alone, there are about 20,000 Barack Obama voters who we can count on not to show up on Nov. 4. They’re only on board for presidential elections. Those 20,000 make a difference,” Durbin said.
Durbin introduced Ann Callis, the Democratic nominee for Congress in the 13th District, which includes parts of the Metro East.
The last time this seat was up, Durbin said, the Democratic candidate came close overall but lost in Madison County, where he was little known.
“That’s not going to happen this time, because Ann Callis is from Madison County. They know her in Madison County,” Durbin said.
“If she can win Madison County by 3,000 votes, she will be the next congressman.”
Durbin said the key will be individual effort – organizing, checking registrations and knocking on doors.
“What we need to do is make sure they know how important it is that they vote,” Durbin said.
Durbin also spoke up for U.S. Rep. William Enyart, the Democratic Congressman from Belleville, who is running for re-election in the 12th District.
“Those of you who know a little bit about his opponent know that this is an easy choice, in terms of values, between what Bill Enyart brings to this job and what his opponent would do,” Durbin said.
“It’s an election that is critically important for us as a state,” he said. “What’s at stake are some important values.”
Durbin listed an increase in the minimum wage, pay equity, giving women a voice in the selection of their health care and
encouraging businesses to stay in Illinois and in the United States among the values that are at stake.
Durbin also noted the contributions of the labor movement to Democratic politics.
“We couldn’t do this without them, so I want you to give a round of applause for our friends in organized labor,” he said.
Building Trades: Labor support for Quinn is essential in November
Collinsville – Metro East union leaders and Democratic Party leaders say a Republican gubernatorial victory on Nov. 4 would hurt everyone in labor.
Gov. Pat Quinn’s labor policy analyst Shana Harrison, St. Clair County Clerk Tom Holbrook and the Democratic Party chairmen from Madison and St. Clair counties delivered that message to the August meeting of the Southwestern Illinois Building & Construction Trades Council
Council Executive Secretary-Treasurer Dale Stewart said union members must understand that the council’s ability to generate jobs for them is heavily dependent on keeping Quinn in office and defeating his Republican challenger, Right-to-Work backing billionaire Bruce Rauner.
“If we don’t keep this governor in there, all the things we do will start to change next year – and they will be getting smaller,” Stewart said. “We’ve got a unique situation here, and I want to keep it.”
The latest polling has Rauner running slightly ahead of Quinn, 44 percent to 41 percent.
“I think we can win this race,” Stewart said. But “we’ve got to get our members motivated to vote. We’ve got to take a little time every day to work on getting our members out.”
EASIER TO VOTE
Holbrook emphasized how changes to Illinois law have made it easier to vote.
Voters can register anywhere in the state now, he said, and they don’t need a special excuse to vote early or cast an absentee ballot.
“If you go out west, half the people have already voted by Election Day,” Holbrook said.
That’s good, he said, because “when a lot of people vote in our state, Democrats win.”
“If we get our people out, we can win,” Holbrook said.
ALL UNION MEMBERS SHOULD VOTE
Council President “Totsie” Bailey said, “No labor guys should not be registered to vote.”
Stewart said labor’s campaign this year will be similar to a successful effort two years ago – with members going door-to-door and locals making sure their members are registered.
St. Clair County Democratic Chairman Bob Sprague said voters must get over any concerns they have about Quinn because Rauner has proven himself an enemy of labor.
“If you look at his record, you know he hates unions,” Sprague said.
Allan Napp of Godfrey, the new Madison County Democratic Chairman Allan Napp said Democrats have set up regional offices in Alton, Edwardsville and Granite City.