Illinois' chief executive sits down with Ward Room's Mary Ann Ahern to discuss the state's pension problem, raising the retirement age, funding Medicaid with an increased cigarette tax and the distraction caused by Rep. Derrick Smith remaining in office.
Pat Quinn is going to run for a second full term as governor of Illinois, and you’re going to vote for him. That’s what he told the Daily Herald’s editorial board yesterday.
“I think I’ll win the election,” he said matter-of-factly. “Don’t count me out. ...Just watch the last 10 days (in an election cycle). In 2010, the primary, the general, the other guys were looking for their gym shoes. I know how to win elections no matter what. You may not like the way I do it, but I win the election.”
Laugh all you want, but for a man often dismissed as a political gadfly, Quinn has had a durable career in elective office. As he points out, he knows how to take advantage of his rivals’ mistakes.
Thirty-two years ago, Quinn successfully promoted the Cutback Amendment, which ended proportional voting in Illinois and reduced the size of the House of Representatives from 177 to 118. He was elected to a term on the Cook County Board of Tax Appeals, then bounced back from being fired as Harold Washington’s Revenue Director to win election as State Treasurer.
After that, Quinn had three straight losses: in 1994, he lost to Secretary of State George Ryan; in 1996, he lost a Senate primary to Dick Durbin; and in 1998, he lost the nomination for lieutenant governor to Kane County Coroner Mary Lou Kearns. But he won the same nomination four years later, and was elected alongside Rod Blagojevich.
Quinn waited six years in the lieutenant governor’s office, until Blagojevich foolishly tried to swap Barack Obama’s Senate seat for a bigger job. Then he defeated Dan Hynes in a primary election in which Hynes foolishly ran an ad featuring Harold Washington’s criticisms of Quinn. (Hynes’s father was one of the white backlash politicians who ran for mayor against Washington.) On Election Day, only Quinn thought he would defeat Bill Brady. But Brady had run a foolish, right-wing campaign that attempted to rally Downstate voters against Cook County values. There weren’t enough Downstate voters. Quinn won by 31,000 votes.
In other words, Quinn may appear to be a bumbling political dilettante, but he’s persistent, and he knows how to take advantage of his opponents’ weaknesses. He’s already had one of the longest political careers in Illinois history. If he wins another term, he’ll become the second-longest serving governor in Illinois history, after James R. Thompson. Nobody thinks he can win, but nobody thought he could win in 2010, either.
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