Saturday, April 11, 2009

Quinn fundraising idea a bit daft

Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn is starting to sound like the guy who knows he’s not going to get re-elected come next year’s elections, so his reaction is to feel relief to say anything on his mind.

What does he have to lose?

WHY ELSE WOULD Quinn think it worthwhile to start talking about changes in the way political candidates in Illinois raise the money that pays for their electoral campaigns?

Quinn hopes to get the adoration of the good-government types who are willing to support talk of all kinds of unpractical concepts that they think would lead to more efficient government.

That is pretty much what I think of Quinn’s latest suggestion – the one that says candidates should not be able to raise money in advance of a campaign. They’d have to start out each campaign season with $0 in their political funds.

It is an attempt to prevent anyone from getting anything of a head start on coming up with cash that would allow them to crush any potential opposition.

FOR UNDER THE current laws that regulate campaign finance, that is exactly what Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan (the speaker’s daughter who dreams of becoming governor some day) will have.

Much was made of the campaign disclosure reports that showed Madigan with the political fund of $3.5 million at the beginning of this year – far above any other prospective candidate for an Illinois statewide post.

It definitely puts her so far ahead of Quinn’s campaign fund of $83,000 (which was comparable to the more pathetically funded Republican officials who dream of running for office) that ANY benefit a Quinn re-election bid would gain from incumbency would be squashed by her cash.

Think about it. Quinn started off the year with just under 2.5 cents for every $1 that Madigan had. When one takes Quinn’s political history into account (his ability to tick people off with ideological talk means he rarely raises much campaign cash), it would not shock me to learn the Quinn campaign will never exceed the $1 million mark.

BY COMPARISON, MADIGAN will gain from the people who would like to see her as the first female to become governor of Illinois, along with the people who would like to keep the political goodwill of her father, Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan, D-Chicago.

I can’t help but wonder if she’s destined to top the $5 million mark at some point. I fully expect her bid for governor – particularly if she wins the Democratic nomination next year and runs a general election campaign as well – will be the most expensive ever seen in Illinois.

It is the reason why I think she is the front-runner for governor in ’10 – even though many people want to believe that the taint of Rod Blagojevich will drag down any Democrat who runs for office.

That also is why Quinn’s rhetoric about changing campaign finance comes off as just too self-serving to take seriously.

QUINN REMINDS THE baseball fan in me of those people who always rant and rage about those greedy ballplayers who get salaries that are way too big. They always argue for salary caps, to restrict the ability of certain wealthier teams to spend money to try to improve their ball clubs – which can result in greater attendance and television ratings for their games and make them more profitable.

These fans are the ones who think that the key to “fixing” professional baseball’s problems is to reduce all ball clubs down to the level of the weakest link strike me as truly sad. I don’t care if the Kansas City Royals have got off to a good start this week – I wouldn’t want their ball club to be the role model for other baseball franchises.

And now, I’m wondering if Pat Quinn is the Kansas City Royals of the Illinois political world.

Quinn can’t compete in the world of electoral hardball, so he wants to hold everybody else back. That just doesn’t seem right, no matter how noble one may find Quinn’s ideological goals.

BESIDES, I CAN’T help but wonder what would happen to the money that has been raised thus far by political candidates.

Quinn quips that it ought to be donated to charity. It sounds like a nice goal.

But what’s to stop the money from being donated to entities whose supporters would then turn around and make contributions back to the candidate.

Could it be that Lisa Madigan is going to have more campaign money than any other candidate, regardless of what rules are in place? Could it be that Quinn just doesn’t have the knack for getting people to support him with their checkbooks, no matter how much the rules might be written to his advantage?

IT WOULD LIKELY be best for everybody if Quinn quits coming up with daft changes in law. While this one is not as ridiculous as his desire to shift the primary election date to June (it would just mean a longer primary season, which would be more tiring than a lengthy general election season), I wish that Quinn would focus his attention on trying to win an election with the rules in place.

Otherwise, it comes off as though Quinn is trying to rig an election with rules of his own choosing. Even if he did, I wouldn’t be surprised if the more politically astute candidates managed to figure out ways to take those rules and turn them to their advantage and against Pat.


No comments: