Actor-activist Martin Sheen, who played popular Democratic U.S. President Josiah Barlet on NBC's political drama The West Wing, delivered an impassioned, ready-for-primetime speech while endorsing Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn—a Democrat in real life—at an event in Chicago on Sunday.
Sheen, a card-carrying liberal, trumpeted Quinn as part of a rally-slash-press conference supporting a state increase in the minimum wage, proclaiming: "This fight to raise the minimum wage is part of the fight for social justice. ... Gov. Quinn has embraced this fight and he's made it the cornerstone of his campaign, and in so doing he reminds us that one heart with courage is a majority!"
According to the Chicago Sun-Times, Sheen dubbed Quinn one of his "heroes" for approving a law that eradicated the death penalty here and said the two have been chummy for the past few years. They shared Mass at a Catholic church in the Pilsen neighborhood before Sheen took to the pro-Quinn pulpit.
The 74-year-old star, who tag-teamed with Quinn to greet Chicagoans at Millennium Station on Monday, joins a growing list of boldfaced names lobbying for the incumbent as he fights a tough re-election battle against Republican opponent Bruce Rauner. Last week, President Barack Obama headlined a pro-Quinn fundraiser. First Lady Michelle Obama will emcee an event at the University of Illinois at Chicago on Tuesday afternoon. Feminist icons Hillary Clinton and Gloria Steinem have also given a stamp of approval. (Ditka has not.)
While President Obama's pitch to hike the federal minimum wage to $10.10 per hour remains in congressional limbo, Illinois Democrats including Quinn and Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel are carrying the torch here in the Land of Lincoln where the rate stands at $8.25. Quinn has a voter referendum on the Nov. 4 ballot gauging response to his proposal to boost the rate to $10; Emanuel has proposed a city ordinance that would bump it further up to $13 per hour.
Recently Rauner, nearly unstoppable in a successful grassroots campaign to unseat Quinn over the summer, stumbled upon a roadblock when reports emerged that he once advocated for wiping out the minimum wage entirely as a strategy to keep the cash-strapped state competitive. He's since softened his controversial position, saying that he would support a hike in wages for low-income workers with pro-business concessions attached.
Sheen's fiery address, via the Sun-Times: