Gov. Pat Quinn thinks Rod Blagojevich is guilty.
“I don’t believe it’s the right thing to do,” he told reporters as he marched in the Twilight Parade at the State Fair in Springfield. “But I think the people who heard the evidence or the arguments, they should be the ones who make the decision, not me.”
State Sen. Bill Brady thinks Blagojevich is guilty, too.
“We’re all anxious to turn a page and close a chapter on this part of Illinois history,” Brady said at the same parade. “I think the evidence is pretty clear as it was presented, but I’ll leave that up to the jury.”
But which of these guys most wants Blagojevich to be found guilty? That would be Brady, who has been campaigning all year against the alleged misfeasance of “the Blagojevich-Quinn Administration.”
After Quinn received a $75,000 donation from the Teamsters, then vetoed a bill the union opposed, Brady declared that “the citizens of Illinois are suffering the effects of the pay-to-politics that were the hallmark of the Blagojevich-Quinn Administration.”
On his PatQuinned website, Brady asks Illinoisans to “tell the world how Quinn's job-killing tax and spend policies and the corruption of the Blagojevich/Quinn administration have affected you.”
Quinn has tried to avoid talking about his predecessor, but his spokesman Mica Matsoff has said the “trial highlights why it’s so important that we keep Governor Quinn in office, the first honest governor in a decade.”
Regardless of what he thinks of Blagojevich’s honesty, or his guilt, an acquittal will help Quinn’s campaign. If Blagojevich is convicted, the Republicans will attempt to make him Quinn’s running mate for the third time in a row. In the fall, when the campaign ads get really nasty, they’ll start airing black and white ads highlighting his association with the “felon” Blagojevich. Hey, Blagojevich did the same thing to Judy Baar Topinka. It sure didn’t help Topinka that George Ryan was convicted of corruption in April 2006. It helped even less that Blagojevich dug up a tape of Topinka calling Ryan “a damn decent guy.”
If Blagojevich beats the rap, Democratic corruption becomes a less potent issue. There may even be a Blago backlash among voters who think he was the victim of a headline-hungry GOP prosecutor.
So Quinn can tell the public he thinks the ex-governor is guilty, then cross his fingers and hope the jury decides otherwise.