Why would a promising young man like Aaron Schock want a dead-end job like governor of Illinois?
Schock has been using his trip to the Republican National Convention in Tampa to test support for a gubernatorial run in 2014. In an interview with the Chicago Sun-Times, Schock attacked Gov. Pat Quinn’s leadership abilities.
“He’s been in state government for 30 years. He’s been at the helm of the state for what will be six-plus years. He’s proven incapable of turning the ship around,” Schock said of Quinn. “I think part of it is I don’t think he has the personality that’s engaging, that instills confidence,” from his party, Schock said. “I think he doesn’t have the capacity perhaps to put it all together.”
If Schock is elected governor, he’ll be 33 years old when he takes office. If he’s lucky, he’ll get eight years in Springfield. And then he'll be a 41-year-old has been.
For the last 100 years, the Illinois governor’s office has been the last stop for every politician who has held it. The last governor elected to higher office was Charles S. Deneen, who was governor from 1905-13, then served a term in the U.S. Senate from 1925-31.
Plenty of other governors tried to move up. Frank O. Lowden twice went after the Republican nomination for president, in 1920 and 1928. Adlai Stevenson twice won the Democratic nomination for president, in 1952 and 1956, but lost both elections to Dwight D. Eisenhower.
And those were the successful ex-governors. We don’t even need to mention all the officeholders who ended up in federal prison.
Maybe Schock thinks he can clean up Springfield, and use that success as a springboard to the presidency, which has to be on his mind if he’s considering a run for governor. But plenty of politicians who’ve promised to end the corruption in Illinois have ended up corrupted by the state’s political culture.
If Schock wants to get ahead in politics, he should run for the Senate. We know you can get to the White House from there.
This month, Ward Room blogger Edward McClelland’s Young Mr. Obama: Chicago and the Making of a Black President will be available on Kindle for $2.99. Tracing Obama’s career in Chicago from his arrival as a community organizer to his election to the U.S. Senate, Young Mr. Obama tells the story of how a callow, presumptuous young man became a master politician, and of why only Chicago could have produced our first black president.