County Democrats attend statewide gathering
Macoupin County Clerk Pete Duncan, seated directly below the individual standing, listens to a speaker at Wednesday’s gathering in Springfield.
State Sen. Andy Manar, right, greets a supporter after Wednesday’s Illinois Democratic County Chairs Association brunch at the Crowne Plaza in Springfield.
By DANIEL WINNINGHAM
Enquirer Democrat Managing Editor
Local Democrats were among the statewide gathering at the 2019 annual Illinois Democrats Count Chairs’ Association brunch at the Crowne Plaza Wednesday morning.
Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi provided the event’s keynote address.
State Sen. Andy Manar of Bunker Hill said Pelosi providing a unifying message.
“The Speaker (of the House) gave a message that not just unites Democrats but I think unites the country based on what undoubtedly has been a very divisive summer across the country,” Manar said. “All of that has been emanating from Washington, D.C. But today we had a Democratic Party that’s united.”
Between now and when votes are cast in next year’s primary, Manar said Democrats need to focus on the economy.
“Much like the spring legislative session, we focus on economic issues,” Manar said. “We focused on issues that dealt directly with out of pocket costs for health care.
We raised the minimum wage. We addressed school funding once again to drive resources to underfunded districts that were predominantly in downstate Illinois. Those were all things that were led by the Democratic Party, so our party focuses on economic issues. Republicans like to paint pictures of things that just aren’t reality. They like to create enemies out of people. They always seem to tell people what’s wrong, but I’m proud of the work we did here after four years of failure with Bruce Rauner. We accomplished big things in Illinois.”
Manar also highlighted a bipartisan infrastructure improvement bill.
“We passed a $45 billion capital plan that’s gonna repair roads in Macoupin County, it’s gonna fix bridges, it’s going to extend access to health care, it’s going to do things that we weren’t able to do for several decades, and that was led by Democrats,” Manar said.
Manar is no stranger to the annual ILDCCA event in Springfield. “I was 18 with Vince Demuzio (the first time I attended),” he said, adding he has been a regular for close to 25 years.
For Manar, the main issue on the minds of local voters in the next election cycle continues to be health care.
“No. 1 to me is the cost of health care today in the United State of America,” Manar said. “It’s crippling families and it’s crippling people I know. I talk to constituents every single day. People that are working, two parents, two income households, that are being crippled by the cost of health care, and we have a Republican Party that every day chips away at that and we have a Democratic Party that works to preserve what we and improve upon the Affordable Care Act. Those are very differerent positions, and I think the Republican Party is completely wrong when it comes to containing the cost of health care. Everybody that I represent in the 48th district is today suffering because of the cost of health care.”
Macoupin County Clerk Pete Duncan enjoyed the event’s speakers.
“They were good, they were energized and ready to go for 2020,” Duncan said.
“I think it’s more about after the primary everybody coming together no matter who the nominee,” Duncan said. “We’ve got a lot of good candidates. It’s all about making sure the ultimate goal is to win.”
Duncan is not certain what the primary concerns of area voters will be in 2020.
“I don’t know what the big issues will be locally yet,” he said.
Between now and the primary election in February 2020, the party needs to focus on getting voters to the polls, according to Duncan.
“(It’s about) organizing, getting on the ground and talking to voters,” he said.
Duncan’s first visit to the annual ILDCCA event was in 2007, and by his recollection, he’s been absent just once.
Peyton Bernot of Benld, the Cahokia 2 Precinct Committeeman, attended Wednesday’s event.
“I’m a lifelong Democrat,” Bernot said. “My take from the message is that we have to continue to support policies that increase the working class family, and I think that’s what the message was here today, and I think 2018 proved that message. People are getting more of that message and are agreeing with it.”
Asked what the party needs to do between now and the 2020 primary, Bernot responded “propose policies that benefit the middle class.”
“I think education is going to be a big issue, increasing teacher’s salaries, I think that’s an issue, Andy Manar addressed that issue obviously, I think those issues are going to be talked about a lot,” Bernot said.
“It went great,” he said. “We had a huge turnout. I think the general message today was highlighting the policies that the governor has passed, increasing minimum wage, signing a bill against right to work, we just have to build off that.”
Bernot’s overall takeaway from the gathering is that he is “hopeful” for the future.