But when Quinn was asked a routine question about state finances, he
used it as an opportunity to tear into his chief rival in the
Democratic primary -- Comptroller Dan Hynes -- accusing Hynes of
playing politics by holding up a loan that would help state
government pay its bills.
"To be lollygagging along and meandering
along instead of getting the job done is inexcusable," Quinn said.
"The people of Illinois expect every constitutional officer to do
his or her job without politics."
The outburst was just the latest example of Quinn's obvious anger
Politicians, even when they dislike their opponents, usually hide
their feelings. Especially when talking about members of their own
party, they portray disputes as simple policy differences and make
sure to note their opponent's good intentions or long record of
Normally easygoing, he bristles at the mention of Hynes' name and
flings harsh accusations: Hynes doesn't know much about creating
jobs; he went AWOL during tough state budget talks; he's an
"ankle-biter" who complains without offering better ideas.
Quinn won't discuss his irritation at being challenged by Hynes,
but he doesn't deny it either.
"It's a free country. Anybody can run for office," Quinn said
when asked about it.
Regardless of who emerges from the Feb. 2 primary, the skirmishes
are sure to provide fodder for Republicans who hope to reclaim the
governor's mansion in the wake of the Blagojevich scandal.
Hynes stoked the flames when he went after Quinn early. His first
TV ad stretched the facts to accuse Quinn of wanting to raise taxes
even on families struggling to get by. He also has called Quinn, who
twice ran for office on the same ticket with Blagojevich, the head
cheerleader for the disgraced ex-governor.
Still, an aide says Hynes' race against Quinn is about the issues
-- primarily how to deal with the state's enormous budget problems.
"What the governor doesn't seem to understand is this isn't
personal. It isn't about him," Hynes spokesman Matt McGrath said.
It's not hard to see why Quinn would be annoyed.
It's rare for an establishment politician like Hynes to launch a
primary challenge against a high-ranking member of his own party.
In addition, Quinn took office under incredibly stressful
circumstances. He replaced Blagojevich in January when the incumbent
was booted out of office over federal corruption charges.
That left Quinn the tasks of reassuring an angry, suspicious
public while trying to take control of Blagojevich's bureaucracy and
figure out how to address the biggest budget crisis in Illinois
"I believe that he feels that his long years in politics have
brought him to the governor's office and he deserves the respect of
the rest of the party not to challenge him so soon after he comes
into office," said Loyola University of Chicago political science
professor John Frendreis.
[to top of second column]
\By challenging Quinn, Hynes is signaling that he sees the governor
as vulnerable politically and wrong on the issues, Frendreis said.
No politician likes those labels.
Hynes' campaign also says something about his own
political options. He was widely expected to run for attorney
general if the incumbent, Lisa Madigan, had run for governor. When
Madigan decided to stay put, Hynes was forced to choose between
seeking yet another term as comptroller, entering the crowded Senate
field or challenging Quinn.
It's the budget that seems to irritate Quinn the most when it
comes to Hynes.
Quinn took the politically risky step of calling for higher
income taxes. He also battled the Legislature over how deeply to cut
spending, often putting himself in the position of warning that
lawmakers weren't being realistic and that their proposals would
Hynes was largely silent during that debate. Quinn accuses him of
hiding from the controversy then but surfacing now just to complain
for political reasons.
"When you politic all the time and you try to tear down the
incumbent governor, that doesn't get Illinois very far," Quinn
sniped at Hynes during a debate last month in Rockford.
Quinn and Hynes have political pedigrees that couldn't be more
A three-term comptroller, Hynes hails from a well-known
Democratic political family -- his father is a former state Senate
president and former Cook County assessor. Quinn started as a
government watchdog before serving as state treasurer and eventually
As irritated as he may be, Quinn won't question Hynes' party
"I don't really believe in that," he said. "I think if you want
to run for office, you can. I am a team player. I want to work with
everybody in state government."
Meanwhile, an aide insists Hynes is taking everything in stride.
"It says a lot more about Pat Quinn than it says about Dan,"
By DEANNA BELLANDI]
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