By Tom Schuba, nbcchicago.com
Democratic presidential candidate and Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders will host a rally at Chicago State University Thursday as the school struggles to stay open amid the state’s budget impasse.
The state of Illinois has been without a budget since July of last year. As a result, state universities and community colleges have not received state funding. The state’s budget stalemate has been typified by a battle between Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner and the Democrat-controlled legislature.
University President Thomas Calhoun announced plans Tuesday to cancel the school’s spring break in order to allow students to complete the current semester before funding runs out.
Doors open at 6 p.m. at the university’s Emil & Patricia Jones Convocation Center at 9501 S. King Drive. The rally is scheduled to start at 8:30 p.m.
Sanders has begun campaigning in Illinois in the lead-up to the March 15 primary. Sanders opened a Chicago campaign office last week and added eight additional offices throughout the state Tuesday.
The venue seems fitting, as Sanders has championed free college education throughout the course of his campaign and spoke out against income inequality.
The event will be hosted at the school’s Emil & Patricia Jones Convocation Center. It will be free and open to the public.
Sanders is also set to appear on an MSNBC program Thursday. This event will be held at Sanders’ alma mater, the University of Chicago, and is invitation only.
The candidate previously visited U. of C. for a September rally, addressing a crowd of 2,000 to call for a “political revolution” to institute a $15 federal minimum wage, 12 weeks of guaranteed paid family medical leave, and equal pay for males and females.
Sanders also hosted a $50-a-ticket fundraiser in Chicago during this trip.
Although Sanders beat out Democratic opponent Hillary Clinton in the New Hampshire primary,Clinton has won the Iowa and Nevada Caucuses. She has courted a projected 502 to Sanders’ 70 with 2,383 delegates needed to gain the Democratic nomination. Nonetheless, a recent New York Times analysis found Clinton and Sanders are currently tied in terms of pledged delegates with 51 each.
Clinton opened two Chicago offices Tuesday.