From my perspective, this election ought to be easy for Pat Quinn, but the polls indicate otherwise. It appears that an awful lot of people are disillusioned with Illinois politics and have bought the argument that Springfield needs a fresh face–that somehow this new guy, Bruce Rauner, whom we don’t know much about, ought to be given an opportunity to reform state government.
Opponents of Pat Quinn have painted him as an ineffective governor. Nothing could be further from the truth, in my opinion.
I have known Pat since the 70s, when he worked in the governor’s office and I covered Springfield for the Tribune. When he decided to seek public office in 1982, running for the Cook County Board of Tax Appeals, he came to me for advice because I had been involved in uncovering a bribery scandal there. He won the election, later served as state treasurer, and eventually became lieutenant governor.
He has managed to accomplish much in his six years as governor, despite working with a legislature that leaves a lot to be desired. He stood up to Madigan and was able to finally push through a comprehensive pension reform law. He got same-sex marriage enacted and he made Illinois the 16th state in the country to abolish the death penalty. He cut wasteful spending by a billion dollars, and he responded to the recession with the largest construction program in Illinois history, creating hundreds of thousands of jobs.
Pat wants to leave the income tax rate alone because cutting it at this time would be catastrophic to education, human services and other essential programs. Mr. Rauner wants to cut taxes, but at the same time he proposes to increase education funding by half a billion dollars. How? Mr. Rauner refuses to support a ban on assault weapons. On an issue close to my heart, Mr. Rauner opposes Quinn’s plan to shut down state institutions for thousands of people with disabilities and to give those people a chance to live in a real home in a real neighborhood.
Aside from the issues, where there can be honest differences of opinion, it bothers me that a candidate can try to buy an election. Mr. Rauner has donated $23 million to the campaign! I don’t have anything against rich guys who want to run for office, but a rich guy who bankrolls his own campaign is pretty darn offensive. I have watched wealthy Democrats try to do the same thing–Blair Hull and Al Hofeld come to mind. Fortunately, they weren’t successful. Hopefully, Mr. Rauner won’t be either.