back at the week in Illinois politics:
STICKS & STONES
Democrats Pat Quinn and Dan Hynes went after one another with new
Hynes, the state comptroller, dug up comments about Quinn that
Chicago Mayor Harold Washington made just before his death in 1987.
Washington said that he had fired Quinn from the post of city
revenue director because Quinn was undisciplined and intent on using
the job for publicity. He said hiring Quinn was his greatest
The Hynes ad featuring Washington's comments makes a big
impression. First, because it's so rare to see a candidate discussed
in such harsh terms. Second, because Washington's criticism of 23
years ago so closely matches the complaints Quinn must battle
today -- that he lacks the discipline and focus to govern. Even from
the grave, a revered figure like Washington could carry weight with
many black voters.
Quinn, the incumbent governor, appeared furious over the Hynes
ad. He called Hynes a hypocrite for using Washington as his father
was a bitter rival to Washington years ago. He accused Hynes of
encouraging racial divisions.
Quinn released a negative ad of his own, accusing Hynes of
neglecting his duties by failing to uncover a scandal at Burr Oak
Cemetery, a historic black graveyard. Authorities say hundreds of
bodies were treated improperly -- sometimes stacked in the same grave
and sometimes simply dumped like trash. The comptroller's office
regulates cemetery finances, so Quinn argues Hynes should have found
out what was going on.
Quinn: "Me running attack ads? I'm not running attack ads at all.
I'm defending myself."
BY THE NUMBERS
A new Chicago Tribune poll produced exciting results in both the
Democratic and Republican races for governor.
The poll found only a narrow lead for Quinn -- 44 percent to Hynes'
41. Six weeks earlier, Quinn had a 2-1 lead in the Tribune poll.
Three candidates were bunched at the top of the Republican field.
Andy McKenna had 19 percent, Jim Ryan 18 percent and Kirk Dillard 14
The poll had a margin of error of 4 percentage points.
Bob Schillerstrom, the DuPage County Board chairman, dropped out
of the governor's race and threw his support to Ryan.
Schillerstrom had a resume that sounds tailor-made for an
Illinois Republican in 2010 --government experience but not in
Springfield, success in controlling taxes and spending, moderate
views on social issues like abortion. But Schillerstrom's campaign
never caught on, perhaps in part because he was running against so
many better-known, better-funded suburban candidates.
Schillerstrom's withdrawal and endorsement of Ryan amounted to
something of a personality test for his opponents.
Dillard, for instance, said he looks forward to working with
Schillerstrom in the future. Dan Proft called Schillerstrom a worthy
adversary who ran a policy-oriented campaign.
Bill Brady, however, said Schillerstrom endorsed Ryan "to stop
real reform." And McKenna's campaign accused him of backing Ryan so
they could "take their tax-and-spend ways" to all of Illinois.
Mark Kirk isn't getting much of a workout when it comes to
The Republican Senate candidate skipped one major debate rather
than share the stage with his little-known opponents. Now the
organizers of another debate have canceled the event. They concluded
that none of his opponents were above 5 percent in the polls, their
threshold for inviting candidates to participate. Rather than give
the stage to Kirk alone, they decided to scrap the whole thing.
[to top of second column]
PLANS & PROMISES
Hynes released an education proposal that was big on goals and
short on specifics. His plan promised nothing less than reinventing
secondary education. Among the other promises: emphasizing
engineering, math and other technical subjects; improving work force
training and literacy programs; making schools safer; and helping
Hynes' proposal doesn't include any discussion of how to pay for
all the extra work and resources that would be required. Presumably
the money would come from the tax increase Hynes supports.
Scott Brown seems to be the most influential politician in
Illinois -- except that he's from Massachusetts. His come-from-behind
victory in a Senate race with national implications has inspired
Republicans in Illinois, no matter how tenuous the connection might
Jim Dodge, for instance, is running for Illinois comptroller, a
position that has more to do with bookkeeping than political
philosophy. And his task right now is to beat a fellow Republican,
not some Obama-supporting Democrat.
Yet Dodge looked at Brown's victory in Massachusetts and
concluded it was "a signal to Illinois leaders. Voters no longer
putting up with business as usual, and that includes (former state
Treasurer Judy Baar) Topinka," whom Dodge faces in the primary.
The latest campaign disclosure reports showed Hynes with a major
advantage over Quinn, in part because he was doing major fundraising
long before Quinn was thrust into the governor's office and had to
start thinking about an election. Looking to make up the gap, Quinn
even turned to his mother and borrowed $100,000.
Quinn spokeswoman Elizabeth Austin said Eileen Quinn "was so
angry and upset by Comptroller Hynes' scurrilous and negative ads
calling Gov. Quinn a liar that she scooped into her life savings
to help her son's campaign fight back."
BY THE NUMBERS II
Registration for the primary is up by nearly 300,000 from four
years ago, according to the State Board of Elections -- 7.6 million
compared with 7.3 million. People can still sign up to vote under
"grace period" registration, which ends Jan. 26.
Only 25 percent of registered voters showed up to cast their
ballot in the 2006 primary, a record low.
More debates in the governor's race and the final campaign push
leading up to the Feb. 2 election.
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