Illinois Governor Pat Quinn Is In Trouble
While I’ve made note of the several Republican Governors with tough re-election fights this year, one of the toughest re-election campaigns this year will be the one of Pat Quinn, the Democratic Governor of a state that has become very Democratic in recent years:
The road to reelection for Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn (D) was always going to be difficult. But it looks even harder at the end of a troubling week for the Democrat when a federal probe of an anti-violence initiative he started has received widespread attention in the state.
At minimum, the episode is an unwelcome distraction; at most, it could become a big blow to the good-government image Quinn has carefully crafted, close watchers say.from
“It’s obviously very early in terms of the details, but one of the things that Pat Quinn has been able to hang his hat on for about three decades is his positioning himself as a reformer, an outsider and a champion of good government,” said Republican strategist Doug O’Brien, a former aide to Sen. Mark Kirk (R-Ill.). “This really has the potential to undermine what was really one of the few positives he had going in terms of his public image.”
David Ormsby, a former aide to state House Speaker Michael Madigan (D), took a similar view. ”The pillar of his political strength throughout his decades in Illinois politics has been an ingrained reputation for honesty and frugality,” said Ormsby, who later added, “If Quinn loses in the fall, insiders will point to this week when the governor essentially lost the race.”
Dubbed the Neighborhood Recovery Initiative, Quinn launched the anti-violence program in the fall of 2010, the year he ran for a full term as governor. It has come under scrutiny from federal and state prosecutors. The Department of Justice has sought documents related to the program, the Chicago Tribune reported Thursday. Earlier in the week, the Chicago Sun-Times reported that Cook County State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez was looking into the program.
“If there is an inquiry, we fully support it. We have zero tolerance for any mismanagement at any state agency. That’s why the governor abolished this agency nearly two years ago,” said Quinn spokeswoman Brooke Anderson.
In some ways, Quinn entered 2014 in seemingly better shape than he was in last year. He managed to avoid a primary challenge from Lisa Madigan, the state’s Attorney General and the daughter of the powerful Speaker of the state’s House of Representatives Michael Madigan. Former White House Chief of Staff Bill Daley also decided to end a bid to challenge Quinn for the Democratic nomination. Since then, though, a series of stories have mounted that seem to pose serious challenges for Quinn, although he so far seems to be avoiding the habit of recent Governor’s of Illinois of ending up the subject of a Federal corruption probe.. I haven’t paid much attention to what’s up with the Republican side of this race, but it’s worth noting that Rod Blagojevich was the first Democrat to hold the Governor’s office in the Land of Lincoln since 1977. The possibility of a GOP comeback there should not be discounted.