Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner emerged from the Illinois Veterans’ Home in Quincy Wednesday after a weeklong stay. His visit was spurred by the controversy an outbreak of Legionnaires’ disease at that facility, taking center stage just weeks before the March primary election.
Rauner, feeling the heat from lawmakers and the public about the state’s response to the deaths of 13 residents of the Quincy facility since 2015, moved into the home last week. He lived in one of the rooms like the veterans – drinking the water, showering, eating the food and more.
While critics called it a publicity stunt, Rauner emerged from the home committed to making major changes.
The state plans on “building a major new home, brand new building here that has the latest technology,” Rauner said at a news conference Wednesday.
Facing a tough reelection battle, Rauner is mired in the controversy less than 10 weeks ahead of the primary election in which he faces a challenge from the right.
How the state handled the disease outbreak in Quincy is the subject of a House and Senate investigation, and has become an issue that Democrats running for governor are pouncing on as well.
“When we’re causing death because of government inaction, that’s real,” Democratic candidate Chris Kennedy said at a news conference Wednesday, as his back-and-forth with Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel continued.
“But that occurs at different levels of government,” he added. “When you have a record number of shootings. when the city of Chicago has more killings than LA and New York combined, it’s just another sign of government failure.”
Kennedy unveiled his economic plan Wednesday, days after blaming Emanuel for driving African-Americans out of the city. The mayor pushed back, but a week later, Kennedy said he stands by his criticism.
“If you’re not willing to stand up to another politician, you’ll never stand up for the people of our state,” Kennedy said.
Emanuel’s spokesman said it was Kennedy who asked for an endorsement months ago – a claim the candidate vehemently denied.