If you looked at the front page of the Chicago Tribune Sunday, you saw five candidates on top of the page.
They are ones that the Tribune’s poll found leading in both the Democratic and Republican Party primaries.
It was Pat Quinn and Dan Hynes for the Democrats. In that race, the Tribune endorsed no one.
In the GOP contest, the heads of Andy McKenna, Jim Ryan and Kirk Dillard appear. The Tribune has endorsed McKenna.
Maybe the supporters of a GOP candidate not in the top three (and who found less than 10% support in the Tribune poll) can surpass the three front-runners.
But, I don’t think it will happen.
If my analysis is correct, people who want to play a role in the decision-making process regarding who the Republicans put up in November have to select among McKenna, Ryan and Dillard.
Having run against Ryan (and Rod Blagojevich) as the Libertarian Party candidate for governor in 2002, I have seen him cozy up to Blagojevich to make sure I was not allowed to be any of the debates.
(If you are interested in the details, here they are. The Illinois League of Women Voters had sponsored debates for each statewide race for decades. in 2002, the League said everyone would be include who received at least 5% in an independent poll. The Daily Southtown, a newspaper, showed me slightly above 5% prior to the League’s deadline. Ryan and Blagojevich decided not to participate in that debate. For that reason, I know that Ryan is capable of cutting deals with Democrats when it is in his personal self-interest.)
Then, there is Stuart Levin, Ryan’s law school study partner, long-time supporter and largest lifetime contributor. To say that that relationship is a problem strikes me as something of an understatement.
It’s not that I think Jim Ryan is dishonest. It’s not that I think he knew his friend was a crook.
It’s that I know how large contributors often get rewarded.
If Levine had asked Governor Jim Ryan to appoint him to the Illinois Health Facilities Planning Board, I think Ryan would have appointed him. (Levine was involved in the licensing scandal involving the Mercy Health System hospital application in Crystal Lake.)
If Levine had asked Governor Jim Ryan to appoint him to the Downstate Teachers’ Retirement System board, I think Ryan would have appointed him.
After all, Levine contributed over $800,000 over Ryan’s career and he trusted Levine.
Therein is the problem. Levine would have been right where he was when he committed felonious acts during the Blagojevich administration.
So, here’s the question I ask of Jim Ryan supporters:
If Jim Ryan had been elected in 2002, how much less corrupt would his administration have been than Rod Blagojevich’s?
Certainly somewhat less corrupt. As I said before, no one thinks Jim Ryan is a dishonest man.
But his level of discernment about the motives of this man he had known all of his adult live was subpar, to put it as mildly as possible.
And, that doesn’t get into substantive issues like gun control. Ryan would never win the support of fans of the movie “Red Dawn.” I know. He wouldn’t appear on the DeKalb radio station in a forum about gun control when he learned I was in the studio.
That leaves two candidates:
- Kirk Dillard
- Andy McKenna
I can enthusiastically support whichever one wins the primary.
However, Dillard has one vote that is just horrible, in my opinion.
It is his vote to triple suburban collar county RTA sales taxes.
To solve DuPage County budget problem, DuPage County Board President Bob Schillerstrom and State’s Attorney Joe Birkett successfully prevailed upon Dillard and two other DuPage County state senators to vote for what National Taxpayers United of Illinois’ Jim Tobin calls the “CTA bailout.”
It was that, but it was also a bailout of DuPage County because, contrary to the first suburban “bribe” plan–allowing the collar county boards to spend one-quarter of one percent of the three-quarters of one percentage point increase on roads–after the DuPage County officials got involved, it could be spent on transportation or law enforcement. DuPage County had a referendum on the ballot at the time to raise the sales tax of law enforcement purposes, but, hey, if you can get your state senators to take the heat, why bother the voters.
Not only did Dillard’s vote raise our taxes, it rendered asunder the suburban bipartisan coalition on the Regional Transportation Authority put together in 1974. I can only remember a couple suburban legislators who voted for RTA who got re-elected. (Both the Republican Senate and House bill sponsors were defeated.) I guess I take that a bit personally.
Other than that, I find his and McKenna’s positions fairly similar, except that Dillard has not taken a no tax increase pledge and McKenna has. (I have to admit that having the Illinois Education Association, surely an income tax hike organization, endorse Dillard raises my eyebrows.)
One more thing about McKenna. At the GOP convention in Decatur, he heatedly criticized DuPage County Board Chairman Bob Schillerstrom, who just withdrew his name from consideration as a candidate for governor (but who will still be on the ballot) about his lobbying DuPage County state senators to triple the RTA sales tax.
Only State Senators Carol Pankau (now a candidate for DuPage County Board President) and Randy Hultgren (now running for Congress in Kane County and more) voted against the 300% increase in the RTA sales tax.
How hot was the criticism?
Most of the DuPage County delegation walked off the convention floor.
In addition, taking on Thompson’s continuing show of support of incarcerated former Republican Governor George Ryan, McKenna said,
“It disappoints me with a former governor lobbies the president to pardon a former governor.”
So, which of the top three are you leaning toward?