Quinn, supporters stake out differences in Evanston

Democratic Governor Pat Quinn was back among friends in Democratic Evanston on Sunday, staking out positions on minimum wage, gun control, and health insurance, and contrasting them with Bruce Rauner, his Republican opponent in the fall election.

Quinn dropped in at the Democratic Party of Evanston’s annual meeting at the Unitarian Universalist Church, 1330 Ridge Ave., to speak to party faithful.

He has made previous visits to the city this year, attending the DPOE’s endorsement session in January and marching in the city’s July 4th parade.

“This is what Democracy is all about,” he said, looking around at familiar faces at the annual meeting.

Evanston has delivered 80 percent win margins to favored candidates in some elections.

The city, known for its progressive leaning, supplied about half of Quinn’s narrow 30,000-vote margin in his first election over Republican opponent Bill Brady in 2010.

Rauner, a resident of Winnetka, lives closer than Brady to Evanston, but Quinn and other speakers at the meeting wanted to ensure that his views weren’t mistaken for those of a moderate.

Quinn said one key difference between he and “the other guy with nine homes up north,” making reference to Rauner’s wealth, was Rauner’s support early in the campaign of a roll back in the state’s minimum wage to $7.25 an hour, the federal rate. Rauner later said he would support an increased federal rate or a higher state rate if several pro-business changes were made.

In June, Quinn signed into law a non-binding advisory referendum on the ballot asking voters whether the state’s minimum wage should be increased from $8.25 to $10 an hour.

Right now, of those earning minimum wage, “more than 60 percent are women and heads of households. We need to close that gap,” he said.

Quinn underscored other party initiatives, such as health care, which the GOP calls “Obamacare, but we call it ‘I do care,’” he said, drawing applause.

Since the federal health care program went into law, an estimated 600,000 people statewide have signed up for health care, he said.

“This is about wellness, preventing bad things from happening,” he said.

He also spoke of the need for greater controls on assault weapons and possession of ammunition, pointing to the shooting of 11-year-old Shamiya Adams at a sleepover in Chicago.

U.S. Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky, along with state Sens. Daniel Biss, 9th, and Heather Steans, 7th, preceded Quinn, highlighting differences. Cook County Commissioner Larry Suffredin and Metropolitan Water Reclamation District Commissioner Debra Shore also spoke of items on their agendas, addressing criminal justice and water conservation issues.

An increase in the minimum wage would not only help those on the bottom rung, said Schakowsky, but others “in the $9-$9.50 range would get a raise.”

“No hard-working person should be working full-time and still living below the poverty level. It’s just wrong,” she said.

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