Ward Room
Covering Chicago's nine political influencers

Forgive Us, Judy!

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Forgive us, Judy! We blew it. But we’re going to make it up to you!

    Last week, former Gov. Jim Edgar was asked how Illinois could ever have elected Rod Blagojevich

    "The first time, it was a vote against George Ryan,” Edgar said. “He was going to change, reform government. I can understand voters, after one person fails, they were going to turn to the other party. The second time, I don’t think there is any good reason. The voters blew it. The media actually did a pretty good job of documenting Blagojevich’s ethical shortcomings.”

    Actually, it was also George W. Bush’s fault. In 2006, the American public was so disenchanted with Bush’s handling of Hurricane Katrina and the war in Iraq that no Democratic incumbent lost a race for governor, senator or congressman. The mood across this land was so anti-Republican that not even a buffoon as ethically challenged as Rod Blagojevich was capable of losing an election.

    And it would have taken a stronger candidate than Topinka to beat Blagojevich. Topinka got the nomination because she was the only survivor of the George Ryan Massacre of 2002, which swept Republicans out of the state senate and almost all statewide offices. As a suburban moderate, Topinka was not beloved by her party’s conservative base, and she wasn’t in Blagojevich’s league as a fundraiser. Topinka raised less than $11 million, compared to Blagojevich’s $27 million. Also, Ryan was convicted on corruption charges in 2006, so Blagojevich got a lot of mileage out of an tape of Topinka telling the newly-minted con, “You’re a damn decent guy, governor, and I love you dearly.”

    After beating Topinka 49-percent to 40-percent, the Blagojevich’s rubbed it in when Patti called Judy a “kooky old aunt” on I’m A Celebrity, Get Me Out of Here.

    Well, Illinois is about to embrace its kooky old aunt again. Topinka could easily have reclaimed her old job as treasurer, since Alexi Giannoulias is vacating the office. Getting back into politics will actually cost Topinka money. She’s collecting a $141,000 a year pension for her service as treasurer. The comptroller’s job pays $115,000.

    You can serve in whatever office you want, Judy. We owe you one. But this time, don’t smoke in your office, and keep your dogs off the furniture.