Friday, December 21, 2018

What does a deputy governor do?

J.B. Pritzker has started the process of appointing the people who will serve in his gubernatorial administration, but the people he’s picking are more about trying to create a particular impression – rather than finding individuals who will bring something unique to Illinois government.
STRATTON: The lt. (not deputy) governor

For Gov.-elect Pritzker on Thursday announced his choice for deputy governor.

ACTUALLY, HIS CHOICES. For Pritzker has decided he wants to have three people serving in the post.

One of them is one-time Illinois Comptroller Dan Hynes, who himself tried running for governor back in 2010, but lost the Democratic primary to Pat Quinn and hasn’t held elective office since – although he is a part of the Democratic National Committee.

Another is state Rep. Christian Mitchell, D-Chicago, who also has held positions within the Illinois Democratic Party structure, and former Chicago Board of Education Vice President (and Illinois State Board of Education chairman) Jesse Ruiz.

News reports took the angle that Pritzker picked a trio of political heavyweights who will assist him in governing Illinois. Although I have to admit; seeing a trio of consisting of a white, Irish politico from a family with long-standing ties to the Chicago political scene, an African-American legislator with his own ties, and a Mexican-American with his own political aspirations makes me think this is more about creating the impression of a racially, ethnically mixed vision of politics.
HYNES: Back in state govt. (sort of)

I MIGHT BE offended at such blatant use of race to try to score political points (although I’m sure some will wonder where’s an Asian to throw into the mix). But then again, I remember this is merely for deputy governor.

Which is one of those posts that has no real assigned duties, and is more about rewarding people with a position that sounds (sort of) that it has something significant about it.
MITCHELL: Continuing rise to top

If anything, being deputy governor is even lower on the political food chain than being lieutenant governor – which is an Illinois Constitution-mandated position and has the task of being the one who gets called upon to take over state government in the event a replacement is needed.

That is the role that Juliana Stratton was chosen for in last month’s elections.
RUIZ: Part of a multi-ethnic trio

DEPUTY GOVERNOR IS not a post that puts Hynes, Mitchell or Ruiz on track to become – in the event of a tragedy – Illinois governor. It’s a reward for past favors done for Pritzker.

Or perhaps it’s meant to give them the impression of significance without actually having any real responsibilities.

Not that I’m saying Pritzker is doing something inappropriate by picking the trio of politicos for the post. Keep in mind how soon-to-be-former Gov. Bruce Rauner used the position.

For he had a deputy governor when, in 2017, he decided to have another. With that person being Leslie Munger.

SHE WAS THE woman whom Rauner tried to make Illinois Comptroller following the death of Judy Baar Topinka. But the special election to pick a replacement wound up giving us Susana Mendoza, a Democrat, instead.
MUNGER: A consolation prize

Rauner wound up giving Munger the deputy governor post as a consolation prize of sorts. And now, she’s being replaced by the political equivalent of the United Colors of Benetton. All about creating an impression of inclusion within Illinois government – regardless of how Pritzker actually intends to conduct himself as governor during the next four years.

If anything, the most significant appointment Pritzker made Thursday was that of Alexis Sturm as state budget director. She’ll be the one who has to oversee the details of putting together a state budget for Pritzker come 2019.

Sturm was a financial advisor on Mendoza’s staff as Illinois Comptroller, which could make her the personal tie between the mayor’s office and the governor – IF Mendoza actually manages to prevail in the February and April municipal elections  to become the “big boss” at City Hall.


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