Quinn: Delay Primary to Focus on Policy

Illinois should delay next year's primary election by seven months so politicians have more time to focus on state government before turning their attention to politics, new Gov. Pat Quinn said Friday.

Quinn wants to move the 2010 primary election to September from February. The general election is in November.

In theory, the delay would mean more time before political maneuvering kicks into high gear. Quinn said elected officials need that time to address problems left behind by former Gov. Rod Blagojevich -- things like government corruption, budget deficits and rising unemployment.

"It would give us the opportunity to spend a whole year repairing damage. I think that's what you do after a political disaster and a natural disaster," Quinn said. "You have to repair the damage instead of doing the same old thing."

A delay might also help Quinn politically.

He would have more time in office to build a relationship with voters and cement himself as the incumbent before facing a challenge in the Democratic primary. It would also provide more time to raise campaign money. As lieutenant governor, Quinn did not build up a large war chest.

Quinn could face a slew of challengers, including Comptroller Dan Hynes.

Hynes hadn't reviewed the idea of moving the primary and had no reaction Friday, a spokeswoman said. Aides to two other potential candidates, Attorney General Lisa Madigan and Treasurer Alexi Giannoulias, didn't immediately return calls seeking comment.

Under the current election schedule, candidates have to start preparing in late 2009 for the primary. Then the rest of the year would be dominated by the November general election.

Illinois wouldn't be the only state with a late primary. New York also holds the election in September, with a presidential primary in February.

Rep. Jack Franks, D-Woodstock, said he has introduced legislation to delay the primary. He said it would give Quinn two full legislative sessions to focus on government before an election.

Illinois primary elections were typically held in March until last year when lawmakers scooted it up to February in an effort to help Barack Obama's presidential campaign.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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