Friday, August 30, 2013

Political people can’t get themselves to like each other under any circumstances

Why is it that I believe Gov. Pat Quinn actually has a chance to get himself re-elected to another four-year term? Perhaps it is because of the distaste and confusion Republicans have for each other.

DURKIN: Now an important person
I wonder seriously if the partisanship within the GOP will keep them from uniting behind a single candidate – no matter who gets the Republican nomination.

AND FOR ANYONE who tries to tell me that I’m exaggerating this distaste, I’d argue it was perfectly on display in recent days what with all the bickering that took place within the ranks as they tried to pick a new leader of the Republican caucus in the Illinois House of Representatives.

For the record, we now have the concept of “Illinois House Minority Leader James Durkin, R-Western Springs.” The GOP caucus convened in Springfield on Thursday, and a majority of them picked the west suburban legislator over Raymond Poe – who for nearly two full decades has been the legislator who represents the rural area around Springfield.

Tom Cross, the state representative from Oswego, has led the GOP caucus for the past decade. But he gave up the leadership post immediately so he could focus his attention on his dreams to run for Illinois state treasurer.

In one sense, this became a battle of suburban versus rural – with the suburbs prevailing. That shouldn’t be a shock, since the suburbs of Chicago (if one counts the Cook County portion with the people who live in the five surrounding counties) account for nearly half of Illinois’ population.

THE PEOPLE WHO were eager to see Ray Poe get the post were largely motivated by the idea of wanting a legislative leader who came from a very un-urban (the people who actually think Springfield itself is a large city) part of Illinois.

POE: Too rural? Pro-union?
But following the afternoon vote at a Springfield hotel, the Republicans chose Durkin – who in 2002 tried running for the U.S. Senate seat; only to lose to Sen. Richard Durbin, D-Ill.

By comparison, Poe has never been anything but a Springfield-area legislator. Although he has the reputation of being a good cook (and I recall one time back when I lived and worked in Springfield when he brought the portable kitchen out to the Statehouse and cooked for the legislators, staffers and other Capitol hangers-on – including myself and the rest of the press corps).

The people who wanted Poe are probably going to be peeved at the reality we now face – all four legislative leaders of the Illinois General Assembly are from Cook County. The Democratic leaders are both from Chicago, while state Senate Minority Leader Christine Radogno is from southwest suburban Lemont.

NOW WE GET a House Republican leader from the land out near Brookfield Zoo.

MADIGAN: Ready to battle Durkin?
During this dispute, we had the Illinois Family Action group coming out strongly against Durkin, claiming that giving him the leadership post strengthens the chance that a bill to legitimize marriage for gay couples will actually become law.

Even though Durkin himself was among the political people who had said they were reluctant to back it.

Although Poe has his own critics when it comes to the issue of revamping the way pension programs are funded by state government. He didn’t vote for the plan preferred by Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan, D-Chicago, that would have called for larger sacrifices by the unions – because his fellow GOPers would have disowned him if he had backed anything that was Madigan-affiliated.

ONE-TIME ILLINOIS ATTORNEY General Ty Fahner, who now heads the Civic Committee, said Poe is openly hostile towards business interests? How, you may ask.

He’s not appropriately anti-union enough for them. Although considering that a disproportionate share of Poe’s constituents (compared to other legislators who don’t live near Springfield year-round) are state government workers, it could be argued he was merely voting along with their interests.

Which, the last time I checked, is what a legislator is supposed to do.

These kinds of arguments are not limited to the now-complete political brawl for a legislative leadership post.

QUINN: Another term in sight?
IN THE GUBERNATORIAL campaign, candidates William Brady and Dan Rutherford are likely to be the ones who want the 96 other, as in not the Chicago-area, counties to give them significant votes. While Kirk Dillard and Bruce Rauner may be counting on the overwhelming number of people who live in the overall Chicago area (about 65 percent) to back them.

Yet I can’t help but see a whole lot of sore losers who will have trouble uniting.

Which is exactly what the "Mighty" Quinn privately (he’ll never admit it) must be praying for when it comes to the primary and general election cycles we’ll experience in ’14. This, along with state Rep. Kwame Raoul, D-Chicago, putting to rest on Thursday any speculation that he'd run for governor as a Democrat are definitely pluses for the incumbent.


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