Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Can rural really prevail over Chicago?

I remember my first college roommate, a native of downstate Normal, explaining to me the downstate perception of Chicago by telling me a large part of the complication is that many residents of the "rest of Illinois" think on a different scale and do not comprehend just how much larger the Second City is compared to other Illinois municipalities.

I also once had a professional counterpart (a Southern Illinois native) who seriously believed the Illinois Legislature should be split into 102 districts -- one for each county. That would allow for one legislator per area.

I COULDN'T HELP but be reminded of them when I learned Wednesday of the interview that state Sen. William Brady, R-Bloomington, gave to the major radio station in his home city.

He said that the key to a Rauner victory is for that campaign to build upon the fact that when Brady ran for governor in 2010, he wound up winning 98 of the 102 counties.

As though one more rural county would have pushed Brady over the top, and sent Pat Quinn to political retirement some four years ago.

Not quite. There are rural counties whose entire populations are dinkier than our smallest of suburbs.

ACTUALLY, WHAT RAUNER has been trying to achieve is to avoid doing what Brady did -- becoming so identified with downstate Illinois (yes, I know Rockford is actually north of Chicago, but arguing over the label's legitimacy is an issue for a future commentary) that it actually motivated Chicagoans who otherwise wouldn't have cared about governor to actually vote.

We didn't want the 'bumpkin' in office working against us Chicagoans, so we voted against them. Thus far, Quinn's attempts to make Rauner out to be the "rich" guy with nothing in common with 99.99999 percent of us  is not anywhere near as effective.

Hence, the various polls showing Rauner with leads of different sizes.

The key to this gubernatorial election is going to be which people actually bother to vote -- always a complicated factor for state government elections because many Chicago people who consider themselves politically aware are so focused on the City Hall scene that they just don't get worked up over their state legislator; whom they view either as an alderman-in-training or some knucklehead not qualified for a post at the Hall.

TURN THIS INTO a debate about economic issues, as perceived by the wealthy amongst us who view government as not favoring their interests enough, and Rauner may well win.

If people keep in mind the fact that we'd be more like Indiana on the social issues if not for the efforts of Quinn in recent years, then he may wind up with enough votes on Election Day for another four years.

At which time we'll get to see if Quinn was being honest when he said earlier this year that he would consider this his last run for electoral office -- and would finally bring his time in public life to an end come January of 2019.


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