This has been the longest campaign season in Illinois history, and it’s the longest we’ll ever endure, now that the primary has been moved back to mid-March. Here are the 10 Greatest Moments from the political year that seemed like it would never end.
Most Embarrassing Moment
Jason Plummer freezing up when Chicago Tonight’s Phil Ponce asked which programs could be cut from the state’s budget. Plummer: “The edu… the edu…” Ponce: “You’re blanking.” The clip was even replayed on The Tonight Show.
Most Outrageous Ad
“Bill Brady’s Dog Plan.” Pat Quinn cut an ad showing burly workmen throwing dogs into a gas chamber, with the sounds of squealing puppies as a voice-over. He was criticizing Brady for introducing a bill to allow mass euthanasia of pets.
Worst Use of the Race Card
A tie, between Bill Brady claiming that Democrats were selling out blacks by opposing new Walmarts in Chicago, and Joe Berrios claiming that Forrest Claypool’s campaign was about preventing a minority from holding the assessor’s office.
Best New Word
Misremembered. When asked about his claim that he had been named Intelligence Officer of the Year, when in fact the award had gone to his entire unit, Mark Kirk said, “I simply misremembered it wrong.”
Most Ineffectual Attempt at Mudslinging
The Alexi Giannoulias campaign fed The New York Times dirt suggesting Mark Kirk had exaggerated his experience as a nursery school teacher. Runner-up: Giannoulias accusing Kirk of "economic treason".
Validating William Congreve’s line that “Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned,” Mark Kirk’s ex-wife gave an interview to Chicago magazine blaming a “Svengali” campaign aide for breaking up their marriage, and saying “it’s not an accurate explanation that Mark is gay.”
Most Awkward Moment
Pat Quinn ran into his jilted lieutenant governor candidate, Scott Lee Cohen, at a White Sox game. Cohen told him to be ready for “a big surprise.” Soon after, Cohen announced his own candidacy for governor.
Pat Quinn and his rebound lt. gov. candidate, Sheila Simon. They lunched together at Manny’s Deli, then went on a statewide tour.
Best Bro Moment
Before President Obama made a speech in Quincy, pundits wondered whether he and Alexi Giannoulias would share one of their famous man hugs. They did it!
Most Colorful Character
State Sen. Rickey “Hollywood” Hendon. Hendon managed to insert himself into the primary, as a failed candidate for lieutenant governor with a crazy party ad, into the mayoral race, as a soon-to-failed candidate for mayor, and into the general election, by calling Bill Brady “an idiotic, racist, sexist, homophobic person.” Hendon also published a political how-to guide titled Backstabbers.