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Gubernatorial Go-Go: A forecast

Don Rose 29 January 2008 7 Comments

Five years ago I wrote that the Democratic trend in Illinois was so strong we might never see a Republican governor again—barring some major scandal. Well, the past year or two set the stage for a GOP revival, but the Democrats are probably too smart to let it happen.

Gov. Rod Blagojevich is drowning in a cesspool of financial scandals, personal betrayals, bizarre antics and political miscues so pervasive as to drive his favorables down to Ahmadinejad territory—and the worst may be yet to come. I speak, as many do, of indictment.

His recent last-minute, grandstand play on the mass-transit bill—injecting free rides for seniors—will not rescue him from the feds, nor will it raise his scrawny support numbers much past Britney Spears’.

I cannot explain the overall behavior of this unusual politician because I am a political analyst, not a psychoanalyst. Let me confess, however, I voted for him twice and at least for a while sort of understood what he was doing with his worse-than-Clintonian triangulations.

Reflexively I took his side against House Speaker Michael Madigan as a matter of principle: One should always be against Michael Madigan.

But Blagojevich is not only against Madigan, he is against everybody—even himself, judging by much of his goofiness. How about running off to hockey games in the middle of serious legislative negotiations—let alone in the middle of a press conference?

When his own father-in-law, a Chicago alderman, complains about the governor’s ethics, you know you have a truly comic conundrum—a paradox wrapped in a contradiction inside an oxymoron.

Even should he escape the long arm of the law by 2010 it is difficult to see Blagojevich surviving a contest against any Republican short of Alan Keyes. Of course, the Republicans would have to disarm their circular firing squad and come up with a candidate of reasonable quality and respectable ideology, at least marginally acceptable to decent Democrats. Let’s say a U.S. Rep. Mark Kirk who, if he is still in office, may not want to remain in a Democratic Congress under a Democratic president.

However, the Democrats, as noted, are too smart to let it all happen. Much as they detest Blagojevich, they detest losing power even more, so they will do their best to erase Blagojevich in the primary election, as they did Dan Walker 32 years ago.

The logical candidate—who considered challenging him two years ago—would be Attorney General Lisa Madigan. Her independent, professional performance in office has helped her live down her family name among progressive and reform Democrats, while at the same time she has not alienated the regulars, especially her powerful dad. She would have massive support in the primary and easily win the general election.

Another logical contender would be Lieutenant Governor Pat Quinn, the maverick, progressive populist with big reform credentials but little capability of raising the millions of dollars needed for a battle against the Madigans. He has run for almost every office on the ballot except governor, with surprising—if intermittent—success.

So why wouldn’t he run too?

Well, the problem would be, what if the two split the vote and Blagojevich somehow slipped through? That would be very good for the Republicans, but very bad for everybody else, and there are more Democrats than Republicans.

The solution here would be for the Democrats to hand the attorney general’s office over to Quinn and give Lisa Madigan unobstructed aim at Blagojevich. The governor, who once boasted of his “testicular fortitude” would wind up doing his Elvis imitations as a soprano.

Unless he is already somebody’s bitch in the slammer.

_____________________________-

Don Rose, legendary guru of liberal independent politics, is a regular columnist for The Chicago Daily Observer.

7 Comments »

  • Dan Kelley (author) said:

    Excellent reading!

  • a (author) said:

    Don, how could you write this article without even mentioning the now legally established, major party status of the Green Party in Illinois?

  • b says (author) said:

    While the Green party is, according to the Election Code, established as a statewide party at least until the next gubernatorial election, they have hardly achieved “major party status.”

    And Quinn would be a HORRIBLE Attorney General — he’d want to place a referendum on the ballot before filing every lawsuit.

  • Mr. W. T. Rush (author) said:

    So basically Don is saying Blaggo makes Speaker Madigan look good and makes the Attorney General the fav for Gov in 2010.

    Good points

  • David Ormsby (author) said:

    Considering that Speaker Madigan has been the principal break on some of the Governor’s more heavily criticized plans, his ill opinion of the Speaker seems misplaced.

  • James A Leahy (author) said:

    I think Kirk would have trouble raising the kind of money it would take to win here in Illinois, last election he raised about 3 or 4 million and Blago or Madigan or even Quin would dwarf him there.

    I think a guy who ran last time could be the guy. Ron Gidwitz. He didn’t do well but he had never run before. I have noticed that Gidwitz has been working with grassroots groups against Government spending, and even helping this publication to get its feet under it. He is the perfect person to bring both sides of the party together. His only difference with the conservatives is his stand on life and that is close enough so most pro lifers who want to win could vote for him at least after the primary. If I remember correctly he is personally pro life, against government funding of abortion, and for parental notification. He is against Homosexual marriage.

    His stand on guns will play very well downstate and he has shown that he will stand up for taxpayers, and he can’t be outspent. He is allot better on the radio and television than he was (that comes with repetition)

    Mr Rose calls himself independent but to vote for Blago twice shows he is a Democrat. Don was JBT to conservative for you? Madigan and his minions have been against the Governor because of his refusal to raise income taxes! You think the people of Illinois are on Madigans side on that issue? If Lisa or any other Democrat runs there will be a blood bath in the primary weakening both candidates.

    The economy in Illinois is in a mess and has been for the last 5 years now with the new tax increases it will not get any better. Looks to me as if the GOP has a shot if it can find the right person to run.

  • Jim Leahy (author) said:

    I think Kirk would have trouble raising the kind of money it would take to win here in Illinois, last election he raised about 3 or 4 million. Blago, Madigan or even Quin would dwarf him there.

    I think a guy who ran last time could be a great candidate. Ron Gidwitz. He didn’t do well last time but he had never run before. I have noticed that Gidwitz has been working with grassroots groups against Government spending, and is even helping this publication. He is the perfect person to bring both sides of the party together. His only difference with the conservatives is his stand on life and that is close enough so most pro lifers who want to win could vote for him; at least after the primary. If I remember correctly he is personally pro life, against government funding of abortion, and for parental notification. He is against Homosexual marriage.

    His stand on guns will play very well downstate and he has shown that he will stand up for taxpayers, and he can’t be outspent. He is allot better on the radio and television than he was (that comes with repetition)

    Mr Rose calls himself independent but to vote for Blago twice shows he is a Democrat. Don was JBT to conservative for you? Madigan and his minions have been against the Governor because of his refusal to raise income taxes! You think the people of Illinois are on Madigans side on that issue? If Lisa or any other Democrat runs there will be a blood bath in the primary weakening both candidates.

    The economy in Illinois is in a mess and has been for the last 5 years now with the new tax increases it will not get any better. Looks to me as if the GOP has a shot if it can find the right person to run.

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