Last year’s Governor’s Day at the Illinois State Fair in Springfield wasn’t the best day for Governor Pat Quinn, but this year he’s moving to make sure some of last year’s woes don’t repeat.
Union members, mostly from the AFL-CIO and AFSCME, lobbed vocal displeasure toward the governor during a speech. The boos came in response to his decision to close prisons and mental health facilities as a cost saving measure, among other issues.
To be fair, they booed Lt. Governor Sheila Simon, Speaker of the House Michael Madigan, and the mention of President Obama. (They cheered for Secretary of State Jesse White though.)
But if this year’s Blackhawks Stanley Cup rally was any indication, booing threatened to steal the thunder of political speeches once more.
On Friday, Quinn moved to cancel the traditional “Governor’s Day” pep rally at the fair next week, which typically features a series of political speech-making.
He told reporters in Springfield that the cancellation had nothing to do with his unwillingness to face an unpleasant crowd.
Political speeches will be made at a morning breakfast with statewide Democrats as usual; however the repeat of the breakfast’s announcements will not take place at the fairground rally in the afternoon, according to a spokeswoman for the governor.
“There’s political speeches galore at the morning event so we thought we’d do something a little more fun,” said Quinn spokeswoman Brooke Anderson. “We wanted the afternoon to focus on the families, the music and the fun because that’s what the fair is all about.”
Last year, Quinn also made a gaffe that drew some attention. Attempting to rally support for Obama's reelection campaign, Quinn said "Obama’s dead and the American auto industry is alive."
He quickly realized: “Osama bin Laden ... Guess I won’t use that one again.”
Adding to the pressure Quinn faces at this year’s event, he’s in the midst of a battle with lawmakers who filed suit against him for his decision to suspend paychecks until a solution to the growing pension crisis is reached.