Illinois Republican Party Chairman Tim Schneider is calling upon Gov. Pat Quinn to denounce remarks made by a supporter who likened Republicans to the Ku Klux Klan.
"The governor cannot have it both ways," Schneider said Monday in a statement to NBC 5's Ward Room. "You can’t stand by silently while it happens and let an aide apologize later. The people deserve to hear the governor stand up, explain why he stood there silently and apologize to the citizens of Illinois."
The Democratic incumbent, who's running for re-election this year, said nothing Thursday following controversial comments from Rev. Walter "Slim" Coleman at a Clergy For Quinn endorsement event in Chicago. Sounding off on the "unlikely voter" that Democrats need to reach out to for future elections, Coleman said: "That’s an unlikely voter that began way back in 1961 and '62 with the Ku Klux Klan, that grew up through the militias, that came out of the militias and, and, and – came in to call themselves conservatives, and then came in to call themselves Republican."
The next day, Rep. Luis Gutierrez, for whom Coleman works part-time as a campaign staffer, said he planned to discipline the pastor. The North Side congressman, who's collaborated with Republicans on immigration reform, called Coleman's statements "outrageous, very hurtful and just plain wrong."
A rep for Quinn did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Schneider's call for a public apology.
Quinn's camp said last week that the governor opposes Coleman's commentary and did not invite him to Thursday's event.