Monday, September 1, 2014

Contemplating on Labor Day whether “labor” will influence this election

Perhaps it’s appropriate this election season that Monday is the unofficial start of the campaign season leading up to the Nov. 4 Election Day.


Of course, Republican gubernatorial hopeful Bruce Rauner has been at it for more than a year, trying to get the attention of the electorate so that he could build up such intense momentum for his campaign that it wouldn’t matter much what happens in coming weeks.


BUT THE THEORY behind paying special attention to Labor Day in election years is that most people have more important things to do than stress over who they will cast a vote for come November.


It is only now that some people will give much thought to the process and whether they really buy into the rhetoric Rauner has spewed for the past year that Gov. Pat Quinn is to blame for the state’s ills, and he must go!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


Those of us who remember back all those months ago to the primary season remember the Rauner campaign rhetoric that went out of its way to demonize organized labor – particularly those unions that represent the interests of state government workers.


Rauner used such talk to build up enough support that he overcame three GOP primary opponents; all of whom had far more experience being a part of state government than he did.


SINCE THE PRIMARY, Rauner has put a cork in it when it comes to the anti-labor rhetoric. In fact, he seems to get upset whenever anyone reminds potential voters of what he said back then.


Except that organized labor still has it in their head that Rauner is the guy they want to crush. But can those unions use their organizing skills to get enough people to turn out to vote come Election Day?


Officially, the labor unions have forgiven Quinn for his support of the measures meant to reform the way the state funds its pension programs – the ones whose expenses have gotten to the point where they’re driving the state broke.


The unions perceived it as though state workers were being blamed for the state’s financial ills, and they don’t feel future state workers should have to be penalized for the state’s past ineptitude.


THOSE OF US who have observed closely have seen how ill-liked Quinn had become by labor interests. Will that displeasure suddenly just melt away just because the labor leadership has now decided they detest Rauner more than they ever did the Mighty Quinn?


There are a lot of political interests out there that theoretically should back Quinn – enough that if they actually turn out to vote that Quinn should win against Rauner. This is still a state that leans to the Democratic Party and will still have a Democrat-dominated government even if Rauner wins.


The Rauner camp is trying to appeal to the rest of Illinois (the one-third of the populace that lives outside the Chicago metropolitan area) that he will look out for their interests, and is taking advantage of the long-simmering sentiment that the Democratic establishment that has controlled state government since 2002 ignores them for more urban concerns.


His people are fired up. As for Quinn’s people? There are times I wonder if I have ever seen a more apathetic group of potential voters.


QUINN LOSES IF the unions are unable to convince their voters that they don’t have something better to do with their time come Nov. 4 than stand in lines at polling places to cast ballots. If they don’t buy into the Quinn rhetoric that Rauner, “would cut billions from education, lower the minimum wage and send property taxes through the roof.”


Although admittedly, the unions seem more united behind Quinn than they do with regards to the next election cycle – the Feb. 24 municipal elections for mayor where unions representing educators are firmly behind the movement to vote for Anybody But Rahm.


But those unions representing construction workers seem more than content with the amount of work they’re getting under Emanuel


So whose interests are going to prevail on Election Day – the people who gathered Sunday in places like the Candlelight Inn in Sterling and the Mt. Carroll Café and General Store? Or those workers who will turn out to rally Monday at the Pullman neighborhood’s Wal-mart store seeking an increase in the minimum wage?



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