It's Friday! And that means another This Week in Mudslinging report on the over-the-top, openly hostile, endlessly entertaining alternate universe that is Illinois politics. Some would call it the 10th circle of hell. Others would call it less exciting than a marathon of International House Hunters on HGTV. I am not one of those people. Let's dive in, political junkies:
Quinn vs. Rauner. After the election is over, these two mortal enemies should ditch Chicago for Hollywood and pitch a buddy film dubbed Smug and Smugger with Rauner as the Jim Carrey to Quinn's Jeff Daniels. Not quite.
But on a rainy Friday morning, months into a delirious, mutually destructive gubernatorial race, it's fun to think about. Meanwhile, Quinn's smug-o-meter is through the roof. The incumbent Democrat, making a late-stage comeback like a horse jockey who hangs back until the very end, had ample reason to be self-satisfied this week. For one, President Obama hit town to campaign on his behalf, temporarily out-shining efforts by Team Rauner to slime Quinn as an ineffectual leader; secondly, the familiar, equally authoritative voice of Chicago native Michelle Obama was heard on the radio-waves giving her stamp of approval; thirdly, the Florida federal bankruptcy trial involving Rauner's former private equity firm, GTCR, and alleged nursing home neglect gives Campaign Quinn an indirect boost in the moral-character category, despite new testimony that could exonerate the firm in the tabloid-tawdry case. (Rauner has defended GTCR while downplaying his own role in managing a troubled nursing home chain. In the court of public opinion, however, you're often guilty until proven innocent. And even then, you're still guilty. Ask Nancy Grace.)
All told, the corruption-crusading Winnetka investor was no slouch in the smugness department either, basking in Schadenfreude as a bipartisan committee of state lawmakers began its probe of Quinn's scandal-soaked anti-violence program, the now-shuttered Neighborhood Recovery Initiative, which critics have called a "political slush fund."
Quoth Rauner: "This isn’t a partisan issue; this is about about transparency and accountability. I urge the governor to submit to an independent investigation by a respected auditor like Bill Holland so the people of Illinois can find out the truth without politics getting in the way.” The GOP candidate also unleashed a potent trio of attack ads targeting Quinn on jobs, crime and alleged shadiness befitting a veteran of Illinois politics. Rauner was not responsible, however, for the College Republicans' super-lame video that depicts a child bride's search for the most perfect wedding dress EVAR as an argument for why we should vote for the twice-married venture capitalist.
There are so many things wrong with this clip that listing each offense would take me two weeks max. Quinn, as prone to political pandering/overrreaction as Rauner is to foot-in-mouth disease, tweeted an concern-trolling statement urging Rauner to publicly denounce the disastrous College Republican clip in a show of support for women. That might be taking it too far, but in this mud-stained bloodfeud, both Quinn and Rauner will stoop to the lowest levels imaginable.
Hat tip to Capitol Fax's Rich Miller for documenting Friday's amusingly ridiculous back-and-forth over a new game called ... Rauneropoly. Behold Quinn's creepy new game:
Rauner's bemused response:
All press is good press? If you're Madonna, fine. If you're running for governor, you can't afford to make mistakes. Your rival will happily stand by and watch you go down in flames.
Tom Cross vs. Mike Frerichs. Paying attention to the state treasurer race? If not, you'd be forgiven. The battle for Investor-in-Chief is one of the least sexy contests in any election cycle. (Copy that for Secretary of State. Is Jesse White even campaigning?). Anyway: If you're tuning into the intensely bitter match-up between the frontrunner—Republican state Rep. Tom Cross—and the underdog— Democratic state Sen. Mike Frerichs—then you know the crazy that erupts when the mud hits the fan and the gloves come off. In the latest installment of the Cross-Frerichs tug-of-war over outgoing Treasurer Dan Rutherford's post, Frerichs accused Cross of being Rauner's "lapdog" for vowing to sue the Democrat-controlled General Assembly for passing an unbalanced budget while neglecting to comment on the Republican governor candidate's alternative fiscal plan. Cross shot back, "Another desperate, false attack by Sen. Mike Frerichs. After being rebuked for blatantly false attacks on Tom’s record, now Sen. Frerichs is careening toward a new attack that is equally false." Working against Frerichs: Cross' endorsement from ex-Treasurer Alexi Giannoulias, a Democrat.
Valerie Jarrett vs. Chicago Media. The Obama confidante/senior adviser has invoked strong resentment among fellow White House brass for her tight relationship with the First Family. Joining the president's pro-Quinn tour in the Windy City, Jarrett was greeted with a series of negative headlines questioning her beefed-up Secret Service detail at a time when Obama's own flank of protectors are under fire for haphazardly allowing an armed intruder to break into the otherwise heavily guarded presidential manse. The Sun-Times' Michael Sneed got the ball rolling, dubbing Jarrett "the worst abuser of her Secret Service security" and quoting a source as saying she "practically uses her detail as a valet service." Piling on, Crain's Chicago Business political columnist Greg Hinz offered some sage words of advice, encouraging the controversy magnet to stay home rather than distract from the important issues. He wrote: "Do whatever it takes to get your name out of the papers. And just watch TV for a while. OK?"
On that note, Valerie, you might want to subscribe to Showtime if you haven't already because the new season of Homeland starts Sunday.