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Illinois Democrat’s Dilemma

Don Rose 31 May 2017 4 Comments

For progressives in Illinois the defeat of GOP Governor Bruce Rauner ranks almost as high as getting rid of Donald Trump. This governor is probably more genuinely mean-spirited than Trump and arguably has done proportionally  more damage–especially to our most vulnerable citizens.


Narrowly elected in this very blue state in 2014 by spending untold millions against a decent but hapless incumbent caught up in a series of mini-scandals, this near-billionaire played the populist game, promising to “shake up” Springfield with  nuclear attacks against  unions and Democratic strongman, Michael Madigan, the eternal, iron-fisted speaker of the house and party chairman.

Cutting to the chase, we’ve gone 700 days without a state budget because Rauner will not agree to a budget including a very necessary hike in the income tax unless various non-budgetary issues are tied to it. Those issues include legitimately debatable items such as a property-tax freeze, term limits and an independent commission for legislative redistricting–obviously aimed at reducing Democratic strength, especially Madigan’s. The state senate and house are overwhelmingly Democratic, but Madigan is just shy of a veto-proof majority; thus this ghastly standstill.

The point is, however you feel about the ancillary issues, they should not be tied to the urgency of a budget and getting this busted state’s finances into something resembling order. Absent a budget and sufficient income, virtually all social services designed to help the poor, the ageing and the ill have suffered–many closing their doors–and public education has taken a huge hit.

That’s a rapid gloss on the fierce, unending war between the governor and  Madigan–no angel he, but for progressives who otherwise disdain him, the only bulwark against the rapacious Rauner.

Madigan’s daughter Lisa,  the three-term attorney general, could knock Rauner out with one punch, but she won’t run as long as dad is speaker, and he won’t give it up despite his wealth and power.

Instead we have five qualified but limited primary candidates. None yet seems poised to beat Rauner who has a multimillion$ money-faucet attached to the state’s richest man.

The most experienced, progressive and governmentally proven is a suburban-Chicago state senator, Daniel Biss, who is not well known and unlikely to come near raising the necessary funds. But JB Pritzker, a genuine billionaire with a do-gooder background has the money. Despite his do-good stuff he got caught in a sneaky property-tax scheme to save himself millions–and many question whether a billionaire, who once ran a lousy campaign for congress, is right for the Democratic party.

Best for the party, many think, is businessman Chris Kennedy–son of the legendary Bobby and nephew of President Jack–who can raise good money but is anti-charismatic on the campaign trail. Can he be trained to be a good candidate???

Ameya Pawar, a thoughtful Chicago alderman and Bob Daiber, a downstate school official are also hopefuls but guaranteed to trail the primary field.

Together the 5 make a great composite but betting which, if any, can beat Rauner is the dilemma. The hope is Rauner is so unpopular by now even my cat Ziba could beat him.


  • Maynard G. Keynes said:

    The idea that Pat Quinn, the unmentioned ‘decent but hapless incumbent caught up in a series of mini-scandals’ has a shred of decency about him is absurd.

    Blagojevich’s Lt. Governor (and partner in crime) Quinn had 6 years to fix Illinois pension and budget issues, and only made matters worse with his tax hikes and spending hikes, and rampant corruption and vote-buying.

    The Democrats had absolute control for 12 years in Springfield and brought us nothing but crime and taxes.

    Maybe the solution is to vote out the Democrats?

  • Mel Blanc said:

    “a decent but hapless incumbent caught up in a series of mini-scandals”

    A faker and an incompetent incumbent would be a better description of Quinn. . .

  • Terry P. said:

    How anything in Illinois state government could possibly be the fault of a Republican interloper when we have effectively had one-party Democrat government for 40 years (more than 30 of them with the same guy as the almighty House Speaker, running roughshod over previous Republican governors as well as Dems), this I don’t understand at all. I’m sure the complicit Chicago media will still be happy to explain it for us, though.

  • Jim Ridings said:

    Wow. Don Rose, you couldn’t be more wrong. It isn’t Rauner who is doing damage to Illinois, it is Mike Madigan and your Democrats. It is a shame Rauner has no leadership skills to overcome the opposition. Pat Quinn, hapless maybe, decent never. There is no Democrat who looks good. Any Democrat governor would allow Madigan to fulfill his goal of destroying Illinois with more taxes, most of which goes to pensions and corruption. And you need to get over your love affair with the Kennedys, just as you need to get over your disturbed hatred of Trump.

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