Illinois Delegation Show Unity At Democratic National Convention | WBEZ
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Illinois Delegation Show Unity At Democratic National Convention

The Illinois Democratic Party got 90 seconds in the national spotlight Tuesday night as delegates officially cast their votes for the party's nominee for president. Illinois was one of only a few states to have both a representative of the Bernie Sanders campaign and the Hillary Clinton campaign announce the voting results.

Each state only gets a little time to announce the results of their primary, so state representatives try to quickly say something unique about their state. In the case of Illinois, Democratic Party Chairman Michael Madigan used his opportunity to remind viewers where the state’s Democratic priorities are.

“For the great state of Illinois, home of President Barack Obama, home of the United States Senator Dick Durbin, home of the next United States Senator Tammy Duckworth,” Madigan said. Duckworth is challenging incumbent Republican Senator Mark Kirk.

And then Madigan did something unique: He passed the mic to Clem Balanoff, a leader in Bernie Sanders’ Illinois campaign.

“Illinois proudly casts for a true progressive and the father of the new political revolution, 74 votes for Bernie Sanders,” Balanoff said.

The mic then went to Betsy Eberling, who got the opportunity to formally cast the votes for Hillary Clinton, her childhood friend. Eberling grew up with Clinton in northwest suburban Park Ridge.

“On this historic wonderful day, in honor of Dorothy and Hugh’s daughter and my sweet friend, I know you’re watching, this one’s for you, Hill - 98 votes,” Eberling said, choking back tears.

Afterward, Eberling told reporters what it's like to grow up with someone, and then nominate that person for president.

“It’s incredible. I think we always kind of knew that she was very special. Everybody knew that. But this is just beyond our dreams,” she said.

For Balanoff, he said his chance to personally announce the votes for Sanders is more than a symbolic show of party unity.

“It sends the right message to our delegates and, I hope, to delegates across this country. We have to defeat Donald Trump. We have to elect Hillary Clinton,” Balanoff said.

Just off the convention floor, in a hallway in the stadium, billionaire and Democratic fundraiser JB Pritzker says he was overwhelmed by how emotional the roll call was. Pritzker said many delegates teared up right alongside Eberling.

“I’ve been involved with trying to get [Clinton] elected president for nine years at least and so you know it’s hard to be on the losing end as we were eight years ago but we all came together to support Barack Obama for president,” Pritzker said.

And given that experience, Pritzker says he has a good sense of how Sanders supporters are feeling right now.

“It doesn’t take a day, it doesn’t take a week. There’s a bit of a grieving process for sure that people go through,” he said.

Pritzker says he’s really proud to be a member of a state delegation whose leaders are united behind Hillary Clinton.

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