Saturday, March 27, 2010

There is just no pleasing people when the topic is the Dems Lt. Gov. nomination

We’re going to learn Saturday whether or not Gov. Pat Quinn was successful in strong-arming his colleagues within the Democratic Party of Illinois into giving him his way when it comes to a lieutenant governor running mate.

For Quinn on Friday publicly said he wants Sheila Simon, the Southern Illinois University law school professor who is the daughter of the late Sen. Paul Simon – who himself was a former Illinois lieutenant governor – to be his running mate.

QUINN MADE HIS pick public even though technically, the decision is not up to him. It is up to the Democratic State Central Committee – those 38 insiders from across the state who will meet in Springfield to decide.

Will Democrats, led by their party chairman Michael J. Madigan, decide to stick it up the wazoo of their party’s gubernatorial nominee by giving him someone other than his choice? Or will they concede that there is a certain logic to a governor having a rapport with his running mate – who theoretically is his successor should the Mighty Quinn, die, become permanently impaired, get impeached, etc.

I’m not about to predict what is going to happen, other than to say it wouldn’t surprise me in the least if the Democratic Party manages to stir up furious anger, no matter what it decides. Are these two women from prime Illinois political families destined to be part of the Democratic Party's team of candidates for the 2010 election? Photograph provided by Illinois attorney general's office.

Because this is going to be a decision that will tick people off, no matter what is done. What it ultimately comes down to iis a question of who do the Democrats mind offending the least.

WHICH IS WHY I am disregarding all the political punditry that focuses on how it is a mistake if ______ does not get the post. Fill in the blank with any name, and there is someone who will be bugged by it.

We’re hearing rhetoric already saying that Quinn’s choice of Simon is a mistake because there are some black voter blocks that prefer the thought of state Rep. Art Turner, D-Chicago, a long-time legislator from the heavily African-American neighborhoods of the city’s West Side.

Supposedly, Quinn is going to tick off the black voters of Chicago in ways that will hurt the candidacies of all Democrats choosing to run for elective office in 2010.

But if Quinn were to decide to go with Turner, then we’d be hearing from the people who say that his presence would be the force that would hurt the candidacies of all Democrats choosing to run for elective office in 2010.

SUPPOSEDLY, NOBODY WANTS a Democratic slate where four of the six candidates are black people – although I’m inclined to think that the people who would be turned off by such a sight are the ones who would NEVER vote for a Democrat for any office, no matter what the circumstances.

Excuse me for thinking that some people are going to find fault with anyone who gets named. And if Democrats were to make a symbolic gesture showing the post to be pointless by leaving the slot blank, that would tick some people off to.

My bottom line is that Democratic Party officials have to think in terms of the broadest good, and not get too absorbed with the people who want to complain.

Insofar as Simon herself is concerned, she is a somewhat interesting pick because (if selected) we would get a Democratic ticket containing the daughters of two of Illinois’ biggest-name Democratic officials of recent years.

WHILE ILLINOIS ATTORNEY General Lisa Madigan gets some grief from people who have their grudges against her father (mostly people who would never have the nerve to take their complaints directly to Mike Madigan, they try to take it out on Lisa), Quinn in part is hoping that the presence of Paul Simon’s daughter reflects positively upon all the candidates. Although, if I remember correctly, Lisa’s first spot on a political staff was working for Simon as one of his interns when she was a student at Georgetown University.

For her part, Sheila has one term served on the city council in Carbondale – although we’re going to hear a lot in coming months about how she lost her bid to become mayor and is nothing more than a law school professor at the definitely un-elite Southern Illinois University School of Law.

But she still has the name “Simon,” whom some of us remember from his own idealistic presidential bid of 1988. If we want to get ahead of ourselves, we could be setting the stage for a future political fight between Madigan and Simon (the daughters, not the dads) to see who becomes the most powerful Democrat in Illinois.

But back to the present.

I’D LIKE TO say it would be nice for Democrats to want to honor the wishes of their gubernatorial nominee – who seems determined to have someone of the female gender in line to succeed him – IF circumstances ever warrant it.

But then I realize that Illinois has never placed any significance on that concept.

Consider that when Simon’s father served his one term as lieutenant governor, he wound up being the running mate to Gov. Dick Ogilvie – a Republican. It was the only time that Illinois voters got schizophrenic enough to pick political people of dueling parties for the top two slots.

The fact that Ogilvie froze Simon completely out of his operations (not at all a surprise) was what caused the law to be changed so that candidates ran together in the general election. Although in tribute to our traditions, our state officials refuse to make changes that would have candidates run as a pair during the primary.

I CAN ALSO think of one other group that will be complaining after the choice is made – the Illinois Republican Party.

While Democrats have a chance to put together a pairing that could work as a team, the GOP is stuck with the pairing created by its primary voters. Bill Brady of Bloomington with Jason Plummer of Edwardsville is the ticket that might as well be non-existent north of Interstate 80.


EDITOR’S NOTE: I first encountered Sheila Simon about 26 years ago when I was in college and she was campaigning for her father’s bid for the U.S. Senate, but never had a clue until Friday that she was musically ( inclined. Does this mean we could get a showdown between Simon’s banjo and Illinois comptroller nominee Judy Baar Topinka’s accordion?

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