The shadow of Blagojevich, the governor who was booted out of office
in January, hung over the party's annual state fair gathering. When
his name came up, it was from someone complaining about the
financial mess he left behind or promising to be a different kind of
"There is a lot of work we will have to do, door to door
and by phone, to rebuild the trust of the people of the state of
Illinois," said Attorney General Lisa Madigan.
Blagojevich's most visible legacy, U.S. Senate appointee Roland
Burris, didn't show up for the fair. Nor did the busloads of
supporters Blagojevich used to bring in to appear more popular.
The man who replaced Blagojevich, Gov. Pat Quinn, sought to shore
up support in the face of a primary challenge in February.
Addressing hundreds of county officials and party insiders, Quinn
described himself as a man of the people who won't be intimidated by
the ethics troubles and budget crisis he inherited.
Quinn cited his support of an income tax increase as an example
of his willingness to be honest with voters. "Talk about courage.
Talk about not sugarcoating," he said.
Quinn thanked a long list of state officials for their help but
pointedly omitted Comptroller Daniel Hynes, who is also seeking the
Democratic nomination for governor.
For his part, Hynes said he respects Quinn. But he also accused
him of offering weak leadership amid a major budget crisis.
"I think one of the problems we're having is the plan changes day
to day, week to week," Hynes told reporters. "He has not been able
to rally people behind a consistent plan to get us out of this
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Hynes promised to fix the state's budget problems and to give the
public candid answers. But he wouldn't answer repeated questions
about whether he thinks an income tax increase will be necessary.
Cheryle Jackson, the Chicago Urban League leader who is running
for the U.S. Senate, did not show up. That left her rival, state
Treasurer Alexi Giannoulias, free to focus on the leading Republican
Giannoulias said U.S. Rep. Mark Kirk consistently defended
President George W. Bush's policies on the economy, the federal
budget, health care and more.
"He hasn't earned a promotion," Giannoulias said. "In fact, Mark
Kirk deserves a pink slip."
Republicans, who don't control a single statewide office in
Illinois, get their turn to rally Thursday.
By CHRISTOPHER WILLS]
Associated Press writer Deanna
Bellandi contributed to this report.
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