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No stars to shield Quinn at Governor's Day at the state fair

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Illinois State Fair.jpg

Gov. Quinn participates in the ribbon cutting officially opening the Illinois State Fair in Springfield on Friday. (AP Photo/The State Journal-Register, Jason Johnson)

By Dave McKinney

Unlike in past years, when New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson and former U.S. Sen. and presidential candidate John Edwards (D-N.C.) brought partisan star power to past Governor's Days at the Illinois State Fair, no Democrats with national name recognition are expected as headliners at the event Wednesday.

That leaves perhaps the most compelling storyline to be the icy reception Gov. Pat Quinn may get from a coalition of public-employee unions that are fighting his efforts to mothball state facilities, freeze salaries, lay off thousands who perform state services and push a measure during a special legislative session he called Friday to roll back public pensions.

A day full of Democratic events gets underway at a 9 a.m. brunch of the Democratic County Chairman's Association, which traditionally serves as a warm-up act for the bigger pep rally at the state fairgrounds scheduled to start at 1:30 p.m. and that Lt. Gov. Sheila Simon will emcee.

Quinn has speaking roles at both events, with spokeswoman Brooke Anderson saying his focus all day will be on rallying the party faithful to come out in force for President Barack Obama and touting efforts by the Quinn administration to promote "jobs, jobs, jobs."

Anderson denied those themes were designed to avoid confrontation with labor unions, who have planned a press conference before Quinn's morning speech at a Springfield hotel and a noon event outside the fairgrounds where hundreds of public employees are expected to stage protests directed at the governor's actions.

"Gov. Quinn is pushing for the layoff of some 4,000 child protection workers, disability caregivers, correctional officers and other state employees through his budget vetoes and closure of state prisons, psychiatric hospitals and homes for individuals with developmental disabilities. These massive job losses would harm local economies and worsen unemployment even as he claims to be 'the jobs governor,'" according to a statement Tuesday from the We Are One Illinois coalition of labor unions.

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