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Democratic Candidates Attend Church Services to Shore Up African-American Support

It's a busy Sunday for Democratic candidates for governor, who look to shore up support in the African American community.   

Not just this Sunday but look for every Sunday leading up to the March 20th primary to be a chance for many candidates - and  not just those running for governor - to make their appeals, especially at African American churches.

Democratic candidate for Governor JB Pritzker is trying to mend his relationship with the African American community. Political reporter Mary Ann Ahern has the latest. 

In the wake of the release of FBI secretly recorded conversations by former Governor Rod Blagojevich and  JB PritzkerChris Kennedy visited  Bishop Larry Trotter's  Sweet Holy Spirit Church on the city's southside, the same church that disinvited Pritzker after the release of the new phone calls.   

As the Chicago Tribune first revealed, in that 2008 conversation with Blagojevich, Pritzker called Secretary of State Jesse White "the least offensive" and former Senate President Emil Jones "crass" and joked with the now convicted governor about Rev. Jeremiah Wright's "God Damn America" claims.

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Today, Bishop Trotter told his congregation why he told Pritzker he was no longer welcome at Sweet Holy Spirit.   Trotter says "we have an insult level" and "what he did was wrong."   Pritzker has asked Trotter to pray for him and hopes to meet this week with Trotter.    

Trotter said "I decided to un-invite him" because "if you don't stand for something, you fall for anything."

Trotter did invite Kennedy to speak, and he and his running mate Ra Joy attended the service together.   Kennedy did not mention the FBI phone call controversy, instead he spoke about dignity. 

He said "dignity comes with the job, dignity that comes with respect" and told the Holy Spirit parishioners that he sees government's role is to "bring everyone along" and "we see government as an extension of that family."

State Sen. Daniel Biss headed to Rock of Ages Church before opening a new campaign office later today in the south suburbs.    He along with his running mate State Rep. Litesa Wallace spoke  to the Maywood congregation.  Biss emphasized criminal justice reform and said he wants to "work for all of us, not just a few."  

He also introduced  Wallace,  who spoke of the candidates who are "coming up on our television screens ... with empty promises" and "never every come back and never being held accountable."   Wallace noted that in the African American community she and Biss want to "amplify their voice" because  "we deliver votes time and time again; get nothing that's promised back to us."

Pritzker also attended several churches today, and after initially not releasing the names of the houses of worship, the campaign later said the candidate attended services at Full Gospel Christian Assemblies International, Victory Apostolic, and St. Bethel Baptist Church.  

"JB enjoyed meeting with congregants at three churches this morning and participating in yesterday's Black Women of Illinois forum," a campaign spokesman said. "JB will continue reaching out directly to voters in Chicago and across Illinois to share his plans to move our state forward."    

Pritzker is expected in the near West suburb of Maywood Sunday afternoon, meeting with his volunteers who are conducting phone banking.

The GOP candidates for Governor, State Rep. Jeanne Ives did not speak at a church today, but her team notes, she attended mass and is headed to Central Illinois for meetings.     

Governor Bruce Rauner attended a church service in Springfield.   His spokesman say "one of the best parts of the job for Governor Rauner is traveling throughout Illinois, especially attending services at different churches around the state.”

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