Ward Room
Covering Chicago's nine political influencers

Pat Quinn Sidekick Profile: Jasper St. Angel

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Pat Quinn Sidekick Profile: Jasper St. Angel

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Despite his hair metal-ish name, Jasper St. Angel isn't a rock star.

He's actually one of the lesser-known finalists for the lieutenant governor nomination.

He also happens to be a resident of blue-collar Rockford. As in the hometown of Cheap Trick. And as in the setting for "Roseanne." Which launched George Clooney to stardom. So there's that.

St. Angel -- named for his grandfather, who also started the family real estate business -- is in his second term as a Rockford Township trustee (that's him bottom left). He answered the party’s cattle call for a new candidate because, “after watching that office of lieutenant governor, first as a Democrat, I felt disgraced. I wanted to come forward. I was happy to represent the Rockford area.”

St. Angel is one of the few Downstaters to make the Sweet 17. Rockford, which recently made Forbes’ list of the most miserable cities in America, is blighted with 20 percent unemployment, high crime and high property taxes. So St. Angel understands Illinois’s problems, he says, because Rockford’s problems are worse.

“I can listen,” he says. “I feel compassion.”

He'll also need the ability to entertain himself. In recent years, two lieutenant governors -- Dave O’Neal and Bob Kustra -- have quit the office out of boredom. In this year’s Democratic primary, candidate Terry Link ran an ad portraying himself filling out crossword puzzles and taking language lessons. (Link finished last.)

But lieutenant governor would be a big step up from township trustee. St. Angel plans to make the office meaningful by trying to help kids afford college and reducing the high school dropout rate. In Rockford, 45 percent of high-schoolers don’t graduate.

“I think the lieutenant governor can be a role model,” he says. “Without a high school education, that’s a recipe for disaster.”

Does St. Angel suspect he and the other just-folks finalists are window dressing for a party that’s already decided to pick an insider, but still wants to look “open”? He won’t go there.

“I like Mike Madigan,” he says. (That’s exactly what you should say if you want the Central Committee’s nomination.) “I believe he’s held an open and transparent process. I don’t know what goes on behind closed doors.”

We’ll find out Saturday.

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