Democratic Speaker Mike Madigan has already cut back his party’s festivities at the Illinois State Fair — and now he seems to be trying to throw cow chips at Republicans’ celebrations.
The speaker, who is also state Democratic Party chairman, announced Wednesday that he is convening the Illinois House next week — on Governor’s Day at the State Fair.
Could calling legislators to work on the day set aside for Republican politics at the fair be perceived as a slight to the governor, whom Madigan has been feuding with for more than two years?
Madigan spokesman Steve Brown says no.
“You know these are unusual times. The House has been in on a lot of different days,” Brown said.
But Illinois House Republican Leader Jim Durkin called the scheduling “no coincidence.”
“They just didn’t pick this date out of thin air. They know it’s Republican Day. I think the whole point is to create some type of controversy for the day. And this is old school. It comes out of the old playbook. We’ll deal with it,” Durkin said.
Every year, one day is set aside at the fair for each party. Whoever holds the governor’s office calls theirs Governor’s Day. It’s a chance for each party to hold rallies, deliver stem-winders and pitch their candidates at events on the fairgrounds in Springfield.
Republicans marked their first Governor’s Day at the State Fair in more than a decade in 2015, the first time they held the governor’s mansion since 2002.
Rauner has historically ridden into the State Fair on Governor’s Day on his motorcycle.
For the past two years, the governor has attended both a breakfast and State Fair rally. Last year at the breakfast, he vowed to go “toe-to-toe” with Democrats to oust the “political machine” crippling the state.
Durkin said Republican House legislators typically attend a luncheon on Governor’s Day, with some taking on speaking roles. But he said this year he’ll be on the House floor.
The schedule was posted on Wednesday afternoon, with an education committee planned at 9 a.m. and the House convening at 11 a.m.
Brown said the House will be addressing a potential override of Rauner’s amendatory veto of the school funding bill, as well as a House amendment which replicates Rauner’s veto. That amendment was discussed during a lengthy House hearing on Wednesday morning in Chicago.
“We’ll look at the school funding situation. We’re probably going to look at both, the override and the amendment. A lot of it is up to the sponsors of Senate bill 1. So we’ll look at the amendment, see how things develop. There have been talks along the way. I think those are continuing.”
Rauner is expected to speak at a Governor’s Day breakfast, as well as attend State Fair events in the afternoon during a rally.
Next Thursday marks Democrat Day, but Madigan has already scaled that back. He put the kibosh on the traditional mid-day political rally — a partisan powwow aimed at ginning up support for candidates and incumbents. Instead, Democrats plan to make their main focus the Democratic county chairmen’s brunch.