Illinois’ governor’s race is a tough battle for the incumbent, Gov. Patrick Quinn. He was the lieutenant governor under Rod Blagojevich, who wound up facing in a corruption trial over filling the vacant U.S. Senate seat left by President Obama. The state also has a major deficit to deal with like most states, and that that’s going to hurt his standing against opponent Republican Bill Brady.
Candidates for Illinois Governor (four-year term)
Candidate: Patrick J. Quinn
Political experience: Quinn is the current governor and was the lieutenant governor under Blagojevich. He has previously served as commissioner of Cook County Board of (Property Tax) Appeals and Illinois’ state treasurer from 1991 through 1995.
Professional experience: Quinn founded the non-partisan Coalition for Political Honesty. He earned a bachelor’s degree in international economics from Georgetown University’s Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service and a law degree from Northwestern University’s School of Law.
Key issues: Job growth is also listed as one of Quinn’s priorities, and his focus starts with building up Illinois’ public works, including transportation and infrastructure. He says a partnership with Obama’s stimulus spending is important.
Quinn supports the LGBT community and opposes discrimination based on sexual orientation. He feels the schools and economic health of the state are linked and wants to see disadvantaged students receive more financial aid and students with learning disabilities receive early diagnosis and assistance.
Endorsements: Quinn has been given endorsements by the Illinois Education Association, the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, Chicago Firefighters IAFF Local #2 and the Associated Fire Fighters of Illinois (AFFI).
Chances of maintaining his seat: Quinn has two strikes against him: (1) Blagojevich, the man he took over for, and whom he’s had to try to distance himself from; and (2) the $12 billion deficit. His campaign says very little about the deficit and taxation, which probably won’t be as much of an issue with Democratic voters as it will be independents. Still, he likely has the more Democrat-friendly areas of Chicago, East St. Louis, and Rock Island and by the weight of numbers could still win.
Candidate: Bill Brady
Political experience: Brady is a state senator and has previously served as a state representative.
Professional experience: Brady joined his brothers and father to rebuild the home construction firm Brady Homes after college.
Key issues: Brady wants to foster clean-energy sources to put Illinois at the front of energy technologies with federal dollars enhancing green models. He intends to enhance public safety, in particular in response to disasters and through better training. He opposes the release of so-called non-violent offenders.
He would protect Illinois’ “number one industry,” agriculture, he says, by streamlining research, development and production of bio-diesel and ethanol manufacture. He’d also like to see livestock and other agricultural products better promoted.
Endorsements: Brady has accepted endorsements from the Fraternal Order of Police Endorsement, Illinois Chamber of Commerce and former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee.
Chances of unseating Patrick J. Quinn: Frankly, the scandals of the previous administration and the bad overall prospects for any Democratic candidates has created a toxic electoral environment for Democrats. Voters may decide to give Brady a chance simply because he’s not the incumbent. However, he’s not well-known in Chicago, which is a huge voting base for Quinn. Any votes he carries, they are likely to be downstate.
He does have some cause to be very optimistic though. A Rasmussen poll in mid September shows Brady leading Quinn and Green Party nominee Rich Whitney 50 percent to 37 percent and 4 percent.
Key Differences between Bill Brady and Patrick J. Quinn
Jobs: Brady would create jobs by creating a pro-job environment, encouraging lawmaking that would cut taxes, end fees that put people of out job and foster job creation tax credits for businesses that hire. Brady wants to open the books on every dollar spent in the budget, leaving essential services in and cutting the waste out. He’d balance the budget, never vote for a tax increase, and control spending. He’d also want to rely less on borrowing.
Quinn wants to grow jobs by investing in public works like bridges, transportation services, water and sewer, school, colleges and other projects. He wants to make high-speed Internet access affordable and more accessible. He’d also like to invest in green, sustainable jobs like wind energy, as well as investing in education to build human capital.
Ethics: Quinn hopes to show that ethics reform is real, having signed a campaign finance reform bill and other laws that overhauled “pay-to-play” contracts for state contracts.
Meanwhile, Brady wants a clean break from the corruption of the past, by capping campaign contributions, establishing term limits and forcing redistricting to take place with a bipartisan state Board of Elections and a computer program.
2006 results: Blagojevich, a Democrat, beat the GOP’s Judy Baar Topinka 49.8 percent to 39.3 percent. Green Party candidate Rich Whitney took 10.4 percent of the vote.
Demographics: According to the U.S. Census, 71.4 percent of the state is white, 14.6 black and 4.3 Asian. 14.9 percent identify as Latino or Hispanic of any race.