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Doug Finke

For better or for worse, fair launches campaign season

Dems rally at brunch, GOP at fairgrounds

Dems rally at brunch, GOP at fairgrounds

Political days at the Illinois State Fair are over for another year.

Once again, the Democrats dispensed with a rally on the fairgrounds itself and focused their attention and speeches on a morning hotel brunch that drew a record 3,000 people. The argument again was, why also have a fair rally with the constant threat of unpleasant weather just to hear the same speeches that were made a couple of hours earlier.

The Republicans don’t have a giant brunch so they went ahead with the traditional rally.

The Democrats, naturally, spent most of their time bashing Gov. Bruce Rauner and his record, or lack thereof. Meanwhile, House Speaker Michael Madigan was front and center among Republicans as the source of the ill in Illinois. Madigan may even have gotten more mentions than J.B. Pritzker, although the Republicans did their best to tie the two together.

Anyway, the political days at the fair have long been a sort of unofficial start to the fall campaign. Except nowadays, it presumes you haven’t noticed the past few months.

So welcome to the campaign season. It’ll be over in a little less than 3 months. It shouldn’t feel like more than 6.

RAUNER’S $1 million contribution to the Illinois Fairgrounds Foundation to help fix up the Coliseum on the fairgrounds was a good move on his part. It also shouldn’t have come as a big surprise.

It’s no secret that the foundation – which Rauner created to raise private money to pay for repairs to the fairgrounds – has had trouble raising money since it was created. Add to that Rep. Tim Butler, R-Springfield, recently saying he thought maybe people were waiting to see if Rauner would make a personal commitment to the foundation before they made their own contributions.

So Rauner announced his big contribution to the foundation during an Agriculture Day event at the fair in front of a crowd of people who are actually involved in agriculture, unlike a whole lot of fairgoers. Rauner got a standing ovation.

Moreover, Rauner announced a plan to have school kids across the state recommend a name for the building beyond just the Coliseum. The governor’s office said details of how this will work will be forthcoming.

The thing is, this will play out over several weeks, weeks that are part of the fall campaign season. That should mean Rauner and his generous contribution continue to get mentioned for some time to come.

OF COURSE, there is some risk involved in handing naming rights over to the public. Just ask the British.

You may recall a couple of years ago a British government agency went to the Internet to seek names for a new polar research ship. The winner was Boaty McBoatface. The name was rejected for the research ship, but it was used on an unmanned submersible.

The Coliseum is used for horse shows, among other things. Please, people, refrain from recommending Horsey McHorseplace or other such stuff.

For better or for worse, fair launches campaign season Doug Finke: Statehouse Insider: It's time for the campaign season to begin. Again.3b01b6db-de96-46a9-bb8e-bc798fb3fb9d/image-pv_web.jpgshaw-push-component-1

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