BELLEVILLE, Ill. – Huge political news followed Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker as he visited a mass vaccination site in Belleville on Thursday.
The governor made perhaps his strongest statement yet about long-time Illinois House Speaker and Democratic Party power broker Mike Madigan.
Earlier in the day, Madigan announced his pending resignation after 50 years in office as a state representative from Chicago.
The move comes as federal prosecutors continue their bribery probe involving a near decade-long effort to win favorable legislation for Commonwealth Edison. Madigan has denied any role.
While not calling Madigan out, Pritzker addressed the matter.
“That kind of innuendo, the accusations that exist that are around things like that, are not good,” he said. “I really believe it’s our job to tell the truth, to be honest, to do the right thing, to serve with integrity.”
Th governor also learned this week that Waterloo Republican Paul Schimpf, a former state senator and Marine veteran, is running to oust Pritzker from office in 2022. Schimpf has taken aim at wealthy corporate executives like Pritzker and his Republican predecessor, Bruce Rauner, calling them out of touch with the people they serve.
Pritzker’s eyebrows raised at the Rauner comparison.
“I don’t think I’m anything like Bruce Rauner,” he said. “The second thing I’ll tell you is I’m really not focused on an election that’s 20 months away. What I am focused on is making sure that we get the families of Illinois protected (from COVID-19),” he said.
The governor pointed to the Belleville vaccination site as example his state’s success compared to others.
It had been giving about 1,200 doses-a-day Thursday-Tuesday with a capacity for 10,000-a-day given enough vaccine, one official said.
Illinois has given nearly 2 million doses at more than 850 vaccination sites with more than 12% of residents already getting at least 1 shot, according to the governor.
“We’re administering among the highest number of doses per capita among the 10 most populous states in this nation,” he said.
He expected the state to receive an additional 500,000 doses from the federal government next week.