Illinois will have its most spirited state election in modern history. Bruce Rauner won the Republican nomination to challenge Governor Pat Quinn in the November elections. While campaigning in a tough primary he referred to as a blood-sport Rauner is also circulating a petition to put a referendum to amend the Illinois constitution on the November ballot.
The purpose of this amendment is: (1) to establish term limits for members of the General Assembly; (2) to require a two-thirds vote in each chamber of the General Assembly to override the Governor’s veto of legislation; (3) to abolish two-year senatorial terms; (4) to change the House of Representatives from 118 representatives to 123 representatives; (5) to change the Senate from 59 senators to 41 senators; and (6) to divide legislative (senatorial) districts into three representative districts rather than two.
According the Term Limits and Reform amendment website the petition has gathered more than 320,000 signatures from Illinois registered voters. Rauner received 327,290 votes with 99.7% of the precincts reporting. Just enough votes to edge out Kirk Dillard, Bill Brady and Dan Rutherford for the nomination.
That’s about as one signature to one vote as it gets.
Rauner’s campaign and victory were duly noted in the national press. He explained his beef with public sector union leaders to the New York Times.
Mr. Rauner suggests that the fears about his views of unions are overblown, an effort by Democrats to stir dissent and division. “I’m not anti-union,” he said last week. His complaint, he says, is with public sector union leaders who donate to political leaders. “When government union power can influence politicians in the contract negotiations for pensions, for pay scales, for health care, it’s a direct financial incentive — in effect as a bribe — with someone across the negotiating table.”
Dillard was the public sector union leaders’ choice and collectively they pumped millions into his campaign and in anti-Rauner ads. But Rauner was also under attack by hardline conservatives who believe he is not “Republican enough.”
Rauner has already spent $6 million of his own money. The public sector unions say they will double their efforts in the fall. To stop Rauner they must re-elect Quinn.
Quinn will have to defend Illinois ratings for debt, credit, pension obligations and taxes that are rated among the worst in the nation to voters. Around 10% of those voters are unemployed. A good number of them are or have been in some stage of the home foreclosure process. Not many would be comfortable with betting on Illinois with their own personal investment portfolio.
As perhaps a sign of early concession Mike Madigan announced he will “propose” a ballot measure for 3/5 of his general assembly to approve for a referendum to slap a tax on Illinois millionaires who love the state enough to still want to live here. There is no word yet as to whether the millionaire tax will apply to millionaire pensions funded by taxpayers.
But don’t count Quinn out. Replacing an impeached and now imprisoned Governor Rod Blagojevich, who replaced an imprisoned Governor George Ryan, is not easy. His first line of defense can and should be he inherited much of the mess that’s ruining peoples’ lives.
Quinn may not be the reformer he was once billed as but he is not the conformer either. If the stream of Democrats endorsing Rauner since the primary continues he may scrap Madigan’s plan and come up with his own.
Rauner has put his plans out there and they challenge the bureaucracy in place. The public sector union leadership and the ultra-conservatives invested heavily in character assassination. That strategy didn’t work.
If Quinn has a plan he needs dramatic improvement in publicizing it because selfie name dropping on state government press releases only attempts to take credit for past accomplishments. Illinois voters do not want to discuss the past. It’s the immediate future that concerns us.