Pat Quinn Loses His Populist Image

Throughout his career, Pat Quinn has been in favor of allowing people to make decisions.

His Illinois Constitutional Cutback Amendment in 1982 allowed voters to take out their rage on Illinois legislators.

After the 1978 fall election, legislators voted themselves a 40% pay hike. It was the period of highest inflation within my memory. The salary went from $20,000 to $28,000.

By obvious prearrangement, Governor Jim Thompson (R-Chicago) vetoed the bill by autopen (he was out of state). The General Assembly overrode his veto the same day.

(I voted for the pay raise and, then, left for the airport on a trip with my wife Robin (Meridith Geist) to Washington to discuss running for the U.S. Senate against Adlai Stevenson III.

(In my absence, someone voted my switch for the override. Had I been there I would have voted for the override, but it really ticked me off that someone had voted for me. I took to wearing my key around my neck on a chain, calling myself a “latchkey legislator.”)

Immediately after Governor Rod Blagojevich was arrested, Quinn called for a special election.

That is completely in keeping with his populist imagine.

By the end of the week, however, Quinn was saying he wanted to make the appointment after assuming the office of governor.

Think of the way silver tarnishes as it gets older.

That might be an apt analogy.

Chicago Sun-Times columnist Mark Brown put it this way:

“If you know anything about Quinn, then you know that violates his most basis principle, which is to let the voters decide—whether by referendum, recall or any of the other populist means he has espoused over the years.

“Abandoning his principles would be a major disappointment from Quinn, long one of Illinois’ most honorable public servants.”

Brown adds,

“Democrats undoubtedly want to hang on to the seat, which could become problematic if this goes to an election in the midst of the scandal.

“I say let the voters make their own mistakes.”

Quinn has gone with the Establishment before. After he was elected to the Cook County Board of (Tax) Appeals (now the Board of Review), one of the first changes was that people handling appeals had to be attorneys. Quinn had recently completed law school.

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