ELMHURST, Ill. — Monday in Elmhurst, 2024 is in the air.
Florida Governor Ron DeSantis traveled to the suburbs to deliver a speech in support of police. The invitation-only event was promoted by Chicago FOP Lodge 7.
“The reason you why you have crime that has spiraled out of control in so many of these different areas is because you have politicians putting woke ideology ahead of public safety,” said DeSantis, which elicited both cheers and boos.
Outside, dozens, including Eva-Genevieve Scarborough, gathered in protest.
“Hate has no home here and Ron DeSantis and those who support him pretty much hate transgender people. They’d rather we disappear,” Scarborough said.
A superstar conservative, Chicago area officials slammed the visit. On Friday, Illinois Governor JB Pritzker assailed DeSantis.
“He doesn’t represent the values of the people of Illinois. In fact, he the antithesis of that,” Pritzker said. “He’s demonstrated that he’s homophobic, that’s he got tendencies to promote racism. He’s somebody who doesn’t mix well with the values of the people of the state of Illinois.”
For DeSantis, the trip is payback. Last summer, Pritzker keynoted a gathering of Florida Democrats in Tampa. That and other travel has stoked speculation Pritzker may be eyeing a White House run. DeSantis is actively exploring a bid.
Eight days before the Chicago mayoral election, the DeSantis visit is a hot topic on the trail.
Paul Vallas, a frontrunner who is backed by FOP Lodge 7, moved to distance himself from DeSantis before his visit, saying in a statement, “There is simply no place in Chicago for a right-wing extremist like Ron DeSantis, and I am disappointed in FOP leadership for inviting him to speak to officers.”
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On Monday, Vallas’s rival, Congressman Jesus “Chuy” García, denounced DeSantis.
“The invitation and the coming of DeSantis to Chicagoland during this period is an effort by the part of the president of the FOP to try to inject some energy into the candidate that he has endorsed,” Garcia said.
“I think that Ron DeSantis stands for everything that Chicagoans have never accepted and won’t accept now,” added Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot.