Monday, October 5, 2015

Is Pat Quinn destined to become the “Jimmy Carter” of Illinois governors?

Admittedly, the hard-core conservative ideologues refuse to accept the premise that Jimmy Carter’s post-presidential public service was of great significance. Yet the bulk of us do see that, and the label of “best retired president” is often used to describe him.

QUINN: Post-gov success?
Why do I wonder if former Gov. Pat Quinn has the potential to achieve a similar status within the Illinois political world?

THE SPECULATION WAS provoked last week when Quinn made some public appearances, including one at the University of Illinois’ Urbana campus – where amongst other things he said he has no intention of running for office again.

But he does want to continue to work on “consumer issues.”

There are those who are convinced that of course Quinn will run again. Whether it be another attempt to become governor come the 2018 election cycle, or perhaps a bid for the U.S. Senate seat from Illinois – should Richard Durbin decide to step down (itself not likely).

I have to admit that anything is possible. The fact is that between serving a term as Illinois comptroller and becoming governor upon the impeachment of Rod Blagojevich, there was a 14-year period in which Quinn was a perennial candidate.

LIEUTENANT GOVERNOR AND U.S. Senate, on several occasions. He never had money to run a serious campaign, and certainly never had the backing of the political party (which would have wished he would just wither away into insignificance).

But Quinn always felt his populist views gave him something to say to the public; even if they always pissed off the politicos to the point where I’m sure many older Democrats were pleased to see him lose his re-election bid last year as payback for all the times he trashed their viewpoints on various issues throughout the years.

RAUNER: Could Quinn top him, long-term?
So the fact that he’s now in his early 60s without a significant campaign fund to fall back on and many Democrats pleased that Quinn is now part of the past isn’t going be enough to discourage him if he does get the whim to run for office in the future.

Some are already joking about whether Quinn can fall farther down the political reputation path than has Roland Burris – who went from being a credible gubernatorial candidate in 1994 to being the guy whose interim appointment to the U.S. Senate became the butt of Saturday Night Live sketches.

BUT WHAT IF Quinn really follows the consumer advocate route? Literally going back to his roots. If he had never become governor (winning a term in his own right back in 2010), he still would be remembered within political circles as the guy who created the Citizens Utility Board.

Quinn reduced this legislative chamber by one-third some 33 years ago
And also the guy who led the effort that resulted in the early 1980s reduction of the General Assembly from 236 to 177 members – which may have eliminated the concept of Chicago Republicans and central Illinois Democrats from the Legislature, but also gave us far fewer blowhards holding elective office (always a plus).

Could it be that Quinn winds up creating a new consumer group that winds up taking the lead of provoking change within our political people? At the very least, it would mean many more Sundays of Quinn press conferences to garner attention on the weekend television newscasts (and those Monday morning newspapers).

Quinn reverting to that gadfly role, being the pest who constantly points out the flaws of our politicos. It could be that the best thing Quinn does for Illinois is revert back to his natural role.

BECAUSE WE’RE FAR from a perfect place in Illinois – although anybody who seriously thinks Indiana, Wisconsin or any surrounding state is significantly better than ours is nothing but delusional.

CARTER: A Quinn role-model?
I found it interesting that Quinn advocated the need for term limits – an issue that Gov. Bruce Rauner also is pushing. Although I get the sense that Rauner’s efforts are meant to build a Legislature of lackeys who would follow his every whim.

Could Quinn become the guy who provides a legitimate measure to reduce the likelihood of individuals gaining too much political influence solely to seniority?

Now I don’t see Quinn winning anything the equivalent of the Nobel Prize for peace that Carter’s post-presidential service garnered. Although it could be a key to people someday seeing what a mistake their 2014 gubernatorial vote (or lack thereof) truly was!


No comments: