Some 200 women across the political, civic and community spectrum turned out Friday to endorse Gov. Pat Quinn at a launch of Women for Quinn — without its famed headliner Gloria Steinem, waylaid by the Aurora air traffic control center fire.
The 80-year-old feminist, activist and writer’s flight from New York’s LaGuardia to Chicago’s O’Hare Airport was cancelled by the fire that damaged the FAA center and stopped air traffic in the Chicago area for hours.
So, Rep. Jan Schakowsky, (D-Ill.), Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle, Lt. Gov. Sheila Simon and Alivio Medical Center CEO Esther Carpuz took the lead at a news conference held at the Hotel Allegro.
“Pat Quinn is the clear choice,” Schakowsky said.
“Pat Quinn didn’t give nearly $1 million to anti-choice and anti-women organizations. Bruce Rauner did. Pat Quinn didn’t donate more than $1.6 million to groups who oppose the Affordable Care Act, but Bruce Rauner did. Pat Quinn did not donate $700,000 to a group favoring the restriction of contraceptive coverage in the Hobby Lobby case. But Bruce Rauner did. Pat Quinn did not choose a lieutenant governor candidate who is 100 percent anti-choice. But Bruce Rauner did,” she said, to fervent booing from the audience.
Preckwinkle called Quinn “the most pro-choice, pro-woman, pro-family governor in this state’s history.”
“The issues that affect women go beyond our personal health, encompassing the health of our families and our communities,” she said. “Governor Quinn and I are committed to commonsense measures to require background checks to make our streets safer. We are committed to standing against the threat of military style assault weapons in our communities. But Bruce Rauner opposes a common sense military assault weapons ban.
“There is one public servant in this race; one person with the compassion and commitment to continue this fight to protect and serve all our residents. That’s Pat Quinn,” Preckwinkle added.
After the press conference, she told a reporter that long before Rauner was a gubernatorial candidate, she had interviewed him for an opening on the board of the county health system, and was turned off by him then.
“First of all, he was very arrogant. He was a know-it-all,” Preckwinkle said.
“Second, he made claim to know about health care, and when I said, ‘What do you know?’ he said, ‘You know I own this health care company,’ and we’ve seen what that’s about. And then he went on a rant against public employee unions when I asked where the challenges were. I said, ‘You understand that almost all our workforce is unionized? How are you going to be an effective board member if that’s your attitude?’
“So the truth is, I don’t think he’s a good person,” she said. “It’s not just that I disagree with his policies, but I don’t think he’s a good person.”
Rauner’s campaign said Friday it believes Quinn has failed the women of Illinois through budgets that have cut education and domestic violence funding, and by “failing to create good jobs for Illinoisans.”
Friday evening, Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan also endorsed the governor, speaking at Women for Quinn’s fund-raiser at Petterino’s Restaurant.
In a statement, Steinem called Quinn “the kind of pro-equality leader this country needs.”
“At a time when women’s rights are still so clearly under attack, we need more leaders who aren’t afraid to do what’s right,” Steinem said. “Whether he’s strengthening the Illinois Equal Pay Act to make it one of the strongest in the nation, or fighting for a new law to end discrimination against pregnant women in the workplace, Governor Quinn is getting the job done for women and families in Illinois.”
Quinn thanked the new group for its support, saying Steinem has rescheduled to come campaign for him next month.
“Gloria Steinem couldn’t make it today because of the air traffic situation. It’s very serious,” he told the audience. “She’ll be back in October. She is a good friend. She’s 80 years young. That’s eight decades of fighting hard for equality, and I’m so gratified to everyone who came out today.”
Quinn later told reporters he looks forward to Obama’s upcoming visit to campaign for him. “He’s a good friend of mine. He’s helped me in the last election, and I really need his help now, and I’m really grateful that he’s coming our way.”