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‘Bernie Bus’ Pulls Into Downtown To Lead Early Voting Rally for Sanders

Ted Cox, DNAinfo, 3/7/16

Ald. Carlos Ramirez-Rosa rallied people to vote early for U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders in front of so-called Bernie Bus. DNAinfo/Ted Cox

THE LOOP — The political bandwagon behind U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) pulled into Chicago Thursday in the literal form of the Bernie Bus.

The red bus, wrapped in what amounts to a mobile billboard, is sponsored by National Nurses United and bears the slogan: "The most trusted profession trusts Bernie."

It parked in front of the Thompson Center midday Thursday to act as a backdrop for a rally for early voting — especially for supporters of the senator taking on Hillary Clinton for the Democratic presidential nomination.

"We're not waiting to March 15," formal date of the Illinois primary, said Ald. Carlos Ramirez-Rosa (35th), a Sanders delegate candidate. "We're early voting today, we're early voting tomorrow, and we're early voting Saturday in my community," when he said he'd have a trolley instead of the Bernie Bus to drive voters to the 35th Ward's early voting polling place.

"We're gonna win Illinois for Sen. Sanders," he added.

"I don't take my vote for granted," said Martese Chism, of National Nurses United. "When I vote, I vote for candidates who reflect nurses' values in our communities. Bernie Sanders is the only candidate who embraced our values."

National Nurses United's Bernie Bus pulled up in front of the Thompson Center. DNAinfo/Ted Cox

"We're tired of being nickel-and-dimed while 66 percent of Illinois corporations pay zero in income tax," said Teresa Mah, a Democratic candidate running for state representative in the 2nd District and backed by Reclaim Chicago, a grass-roots group that joined in staging the rally.

"I'm here because I feel the Bern, too," added Omar Aquino, a Democratic candidate for state representative in the 2nd District.

Robert Peters pointed to Chicago State University, where Sanders held a rally last week, and which Gov. Bruce Rauner has suggested would be better off closed, an idea he's followed through on by assuring that the state hasn't made a payment to the university since last summer. CSU canceled spring break to finish the year before it runs out of money, but has since said it will send layoff notices to 900 employees. Peters called CSU "a great example of what happens when government ignores the needs of folks like us."

After the rally, the candidates, their supporters and Reclaim Chicago marched from the Thompson Center to the Board of Election Commissioners offices in the Dunne Building, 69 W. Washington Blvd., for early voting.

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