HAMPTON -- There was no hiding the tension between Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn and opponent Bill Daley at Monday's annual Rock Island County Democratic Party's Salute to Labor picnic.
On a day Democrats used to talk of unity, Gov. Quinn took to the podium in front of hundreds of party faithful at Illiniwek Forest Preserve to talk of a "battle for the soul of the Democratic Party."
The party heavyweights were the main attraction at the picnic, and Gov. Quinn did not shy away from hitting his opponent's background as a banker with JP Morgan Chase & Co.
"I don't think it's any secret that big bankers who got bailed out ran the American economy and the Illinois economy into the ditch," he said. "We're still recovering, but I think those who were involved in that whole situation where the bankers took advantage of everyday people have a lot of explaining to do."
Mr. Daley worked as head of corporate social responsibility at J.P. Morgan Chase & Co. from 2007 to 2010 and served as the bank's Midwest chairman before he was appointed as White House Chief of Staff in 2011.
He and Gov. Quinn sat beside each other as they were introduced to the audience by Rock Island County Democratic Party Chairman Doug House, who made no secret of where his allegiance lay by wearing a Quinn for Governor T-shirt.
Mr. Daley did not criticize his opponent from the podium, instead delivering a short speech that focused on Labor Day. But talking to reporters later, he shrugged off Gov. Quinn's criticisms and took a few shots of his own.
He described the governor as a "typical politician" who made "snide remarks" to distract the public from his record.
"The fact is that this state has the second highest unemployment in the nation," Mr. Daley said. "Unless the governor and his supporters believe that this is OK, I don't see any game plan to change it."
Mr. Daley said it was hard to differentiate between the results of former Gov. Rod Blagojevich's tenure and Gov. Quinn's administration. He also noted that Gov. Quinn was lieutenant governor under the now imprisoned former Gov. Blagojevich.
Asked if Gov. Quinn's portrayal of him as a wealthy banker raised questions about his suitability as a Democratic candidate, Mr. Daley responded, "That's a hell of a statement about President Obama and Bill Clinton's opinion of me. I don't think they'd pick somebody that didn't represent the Democratic Party's values to be the Chief of Staff and Secretary of Commerce."
Mr. Daley worked as Secretary of Commerce in the Clinton administration in the 1990s.
Four Republicans -- Illinois Treasurer Dan Rutherford, businessman Bruce Rauner and state Sens. Bill Brady and Kirk Dillard -- are seeking the chance to face the Democratic nominee in the 2014 governor's race.
Several other Democratic officials spoke at the Salute to Labor Picnic, including U.S. Rep. Cheri Bustos, D-East Moline, and U.S. Rep. Dave Loebsack, D-Mount Vernon, Iowa.
Asked if she would endorse either Gov. Quinn or Mr. Daley, Rep Bustos responded,"I'm not getting in the middle of that one."
Today is Thursday, April 24, the 114th day of 2014. There are 251 days left in the year.
1864 -- 150 years ago: We learn that it is a contemplation to start a paper mill in Rock Island during the summer by a gentleman from the East. 1889 -- 125 years ago: The gates of Oklahoma were swung open at noon today, and a throng of more than 30,000 settlers started over its soil. 1914 -- 100 years ago: The Iowa Coliseum Co. was incorporated with $40,000 capital and planned a building on 4th Street between Warren and Green streets in Davenport. 1939 -- 75 years ago: Plans are being discussed for resurfacing the streets in the entire downtown district of Rock Island. 1964 -- 50 years ago: Some 45 jobs will be created at J.I. Case Co.'s Rock Island plant in a expansion of operations announced yesterday afternoon at the firm's headquarters in Racine, Wis. 1989 -- 25 years ago: Gardeners and farmers cheered, but not all Quad-Citians found joy Saturday as more than an inch of rain fell on the area. Motorists faced dangerous, rain-slick roads as the water activated grease and grime that had built up during dry weather.