March 18th was primary day in Illinois, and after a long GOP primary fight, the match-up for November will be venture capitalist Republican Bruce Rauner vs. Pat Quinn, who easily held off a challenge from former CeaseFire director Tio Hardiman.
Pat Quinn will have to energize an Illinois Democrat Party that, to be honest, is not really enthusiastic about him. While public sector unions will undoubtedly pour millions of public funds in to the race to defeat Republican candidate Rauner, the Republican may be able to win by marshaling distrust of a governor who served under disgraced former governor Rod Blagojevich and has failed to deliver on any major policies for Illinois, except for small pension reforms. Despite Quinn’s promises, he has left thousands still out of work.
The problem with Pat Quinn is that he is no longer the populist, Tea-Party style politician he used to be and instead has become an inept, unethical governor.
Pat Quinn used to be a populist politician. In 1978, for example, “Quinn urged voters to send tea bags to then-Gov. James Thompson to protest salary raises for Springfield lawmakers.” Before the Tea Party started doing it, Pat Quinn encouraged citizens to protest excessive pay in politics. He also made his name as a citizen reformer, starting the “Citizens Utility Board” with Ralph Nader in the 1980s. Additionally, he lobbied for reducing the size of Illinois government by eliminating 59 legislator positions from the Illinois House. After leaving the State Treasurer’s office, Quinn represented a resident of Oak Forest, Illinois seeking to be a Taxpayer Advocate for her city..
While he used to be very populist, anti-incumbent, and ethical, Pat Quinn now only represents the Democrats–not the people of Illinois. For example, after a court ordered Illinois to finally pass a concealed carry law, the General Assembly passed a moderate concealed carry bill which passed with bi-partisan majorities. Even though the vote was high enough to override a gubernatorial veto, and the clock was ticking before unlimited concealed carry became the law of the land, Governor Quinn vetoed the bill for the sole reason of appeasing the rabid gun control proponents that make up a large chunk of the Democrat Party.
Additionally, as Illinois has grappled with pension reform, Pat Quinn has stood on the sideline. He has failed to lead and propose an actual solution, waiting until the General Assembly passed a moderate, although probably unconstitutional, reform bill. Instead of protecting the taxpayers he once proclaimed to support, Pat Quinn waited, so as not to garner opposition from his union pals.
The once ethical good-government reformer Pat Quinn has proved particularly inept at instituting Obamacare in Illinois. With Pat Quinn, it is hard to separate being incompetent with being unethical. Under Pat Quinn, up to $190 million in no-bid contracts have been and will be distributed to various contractors, including updating the Medicaid Management Information system. CNSI–which was so inept that Governor Bobby Jindal terminated their contract in Louisiana–was given a no-bid deal for the Illinois Medicaid contracting work.
For someone who claims to be an ethical, open-government reformer, Pat Quinn is a failure.
What does this all mean? Pat Quinn’s inability to lead in an ethical way is indicative of the same Democrat political machine that has been ruining Illinois for years. Instead of leading as the ethical, good politics reformer he once claimed to be, Pat Quinn has sat on the sideline, only being a governor long enough to hand out no-bid contracts. Bruce Rauner may not be the perfect candidate, but Pat Quinn has shown such a large inability to lead, that Rauner should clobber Pat Quinn.
Voters in Illinois looking for real change can no longer count on Pat Quinn.
Matthew Lamb | Loyola University | @mlmb24