The one-time political foes did not appear on stage together — or stay for the entire event — on Monday evening as the state celebrated its 200th birthday.
But Gov. Bruce Rauner and Gov.-elect J.B. Pritzker did find time to pose for a photo together with their wives, first lady Diana Rauner and M.K. Pritzker, at a veterans’ reception prior to the bicentennial celebration.
The Navy Pier gala marked the first time Gov. Rauner and J.B. Pritzker attended the same event since the end of the divisive and contentious gubernatorial election four weeks ago. Their only communication prior to Monday’s event was a concession phone call on election night, the governor’s office said.
Rauner spokeswoman Patty Schuh said the governor and governor-elect attended a veterans’ and VIP reception prior to the Monday event. The two briefly chatted at the veterans’ event, she said.
A picture was snapped of the Rauners and Pritzkers at the reception honoring 200 Illinois veterans.
The bicentennial event — sponsored in part by the Chicago Sun-Times — was dubbed a “joint appearance” of the Democrat and Republican, but the two men largely kept their distance. And both left before the event concluded.
On stage, Gov. Rauner said the the state must “come together all as one people, as one state.” He thanked J.B. Pritzker and his wife, with both standing up to wave. The governor-elect soon after took the stage to express “all of our deep gratitude” to Rauner and the first lady.
Gov. Rauner, whose administration had planned bicentennial events for more than a year, is the one who reached out to Pritzker to attend the state’s birthday party. Their staffs have been meeting for weeks regarding transition talks.