August 12, 2014. Chicago. (ONN) The race for Illinois Governor has already become the most expensive in state history. With it, Republican billionaire Bruce Rauner’s nonstop TV commercials appear to be taking a toll on incumbent Democrat Pat Quinn. But poll results released yesterday indicate that the scandal-plagued Governor is his own worst enemy. He’s spent his entire political career as an outsider and reformer. Now, voters see him as just another tainted Illinois politician.
Illinois Governor Pat Quinn. Image courtesy of KSDN.com
For 30 years, Pat Quinn was the eternal good guy in Illinois politics. The notorious Chicago Democratic Machine rejected him because he was too honest. Independents, progressives and reform Democrats loved him for it. And together they swept Pat Quinn into the Lt. Governorship, and one year later after Rod Blagojevich’s conviction, into the Governor’s mansion. But five years in office has tarnished the former corruption-buster. And a recent Chicago Sun Times poll shows voters believe the GOP’s billionaire Bruce Rauner is more than double the reformer Pat Quinn is.
Chicago Sun Times poll
Of the five questions posed to voters in the Sun Times ‘Early and Often’ election coverage, the question asking which candidate they considered more of a ‘reformer’ returned shocking results. As usual, the independent-leaning publication only offered voters two choices, the Republican Bruce Rauner and the Democrat incumbent Pat Quinn. They left out the Libertarians, Greens and Constitution Party. But even still, the results were very ominous for November.
The Sun Times question read, ‘Which gubernatorial candidate do you consider to be a reformer?’
The immediate take-away, at least in your author’s humble opinion, is that only the 16.85% of voters who responded that ‘Neither’ is correct. The Republican Rauner is embroiled in a host of his own corporate scandals, some even harming Illinois residents. And Governor Quinn is drowning in his own patronage and kick-back scandals. And the 6.87% of voters who indicated that both were reformers – they should have their heads examined.
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Probably a more impactful question from the survey asked voters, ‘If the election for Illinois governor were held today, and the two candidates were Republican Bruce Rauner and Democrat Pat Quinn, for whom would you vote?’
In releasing the results, the Sun Times noted that the response was in line with a separate poll from We Ask America. But they note that the Illinois Education Association, and the teachers unions that back Governor Quinn, have their own polls showing the race neck-and-neck. Quinn’s internal campaign poll and the teachers union poll show the Governor trailing his GOP opponent by 1 and 4 points respectively. We at the Illinois Herald believe the above Sun Times numbers are closer to the truth, and the final vote totals on Election Day will be even worse for the incumbent Democrat.
The most well known scandal plaguing Governor Pat Quinn is the $54 million ‘Neighborhood Recovery Initiative’ program. At a time when his state’s largest city, Chicago, is the reigning murder capital of the nation, Governor Quinn’s anti-violence initiative was supposed to funnel millions of dollars into local neighborhood programs that actually reduce crime and violence, cutting through the bureaucratic red tape to stop the killing as fast as possible.
The program went into effect in 2010, election year for the just-appointed Governor Quinn. To insure his voter base came out and voted, his program doled out payments ranging from tens of thousands to hundreds of thousands. But according to an investigation by the state’s Auditor General, the program was overrun with fraud and abuse. Money disappeared, with no trail of how or where it was spent. Much of it was found in the bank accounts of wealthy family members of powerful Democratic Party officials, like Cook County Circuit Court Clerk Dorothy Brown, whose husband was discovered to have received $146,401.
Last year, our friends at For the Good of Illinois first exposed $190 million in no-bid Illinois ‘Obamacare’ implementation contracts to politically connected IT companies. Then, when the watchdog group filed a Freedom of Information Act request for documentation regarding the awarding of the contracts, Governor Quinn’s administration refused to comply.
The folks at For the Good of Illinois weren’t done yet though. They went on to discover that there’s a reason the Quinn administration doesn’t comply with the FOIA law – none of his agency heads or top appointees has ever satisfied the legally mandated FOIA certification. They found that of the state’s 17 top agencies, not one of their agency Directors is in compliance with the Illinois’ transparency laws.
Quinn on the real issues
Perhaps the most damaging aspect of Illinois Governor Pat Quinn’s tenure so far has been his complete inability to come up with a coherent plan to fix the state’s worst in the nation pension problems. With over $100 billion missing from the state’s government employee pension funds, Quinn’s only idea has been the vague demand that legislative leaders fix the problem.
Publicly, Quinn has stood by the state’s municipal unions, asking only that they make the absolute minimum contributions to their own retirement funds. He’s also been steadfast in his position of not wanting cities and counties to raise property taxes to solve the problem, especially in Chicago where the city has its own insurmountable pension crisis. But he’s flip-flopped on his temporary 67% state income tax increase, now urgently needing it to become permanent because it’s plugging another giant hole in the Illinois budget.
Add to the above pension problems, over-spending, and NRI scandal other accusations against Governor Quinn and you get a pretty tarnished politician. He’s accused of using his influence to push patronage hiring at the Illinois Department of Transportation. And he’s accused of willingly giving $20 million to the College of DuPage that they didn’t even need. The state grant had to be rescinded after complaints mounted that it was politically connected.
Governor Quinn’s campaign is publicly dismissing the latest polls showing him trailing his Republican opponent by 13%. But they can’t dismiss the polls showing that the historic founder of the Citizens Utility Board isn’t a reformer anymore. The people of Illinois aren’t buying it any longer. And the day Governor Quinn traded the independents and reformers for the unions, corporations and the Machine, he sealed his fate. Independents and reformers were his base. And those independents and reformers will be voting for someone other than Pat Quinn this November.
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