The Private Intellectual
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Saturday, January 16, 2010  

Illinois Primary Update

Man, is it depressing to be a conscientious Illinois voter these days. My desire to like Pat Quinn is well documented, but it's beyond dispute that the guy hasn't come close to delivering. He had a small but real chance to change the game this week with the state of the State address, but he bombed. I mean, I would have written him a speech on the cheap. He's got some good ideas--making the state income tax more progressive, changing school funding, reforming the public pension system--but he's strictly road-show as a leader. I find myself wishing that James Cameron could project his soul into the avatar of a real politician.

Unfortunately, so far as I've seen, li'l Dan Hynes has not offered much beyond legitimate criticism of Quinn. His are very, very slender shoulders on which to rest any hopes of a root-and-branch reform of the state's political culture, and unfortunately we need nothing less.

Considering that former Chicago Inspector General David Hoffman has not really gotten his campaign off the ground, and that he seems like kind of a wad to boot, there is not much to be said against the Senate bid of State Treasurer Alexi Giannoulias. Talk of his family bank's liabilities has so far not amounted to much. And to his credit, he looks like a real politician next to Quinn, Hynes, and the rest. It's a little embarrassing to have such a politically intense state being run by such rank amateurs.

Since Giannoulias seems to have it mostly in the bag and since the Democrats running for governor are so lackluster, I'm half tempted to take a Republican ballot and vote to keep Jim Ryan--by my lights the most unethical major politician in the state--out of the general election. His late-hour mea culpa for trying repeatedly to kill an innocent man just won't cut it. Bob Schillerstrom deserves some credit for keeping video poker out of unincorporated DuPage County. Kirk Dillard won the Republican-side endorsement of the state teachers' union. But mostly the GOP side is full of people pretending that the state can be fixed without new taxes, which is just not so.

The low-hanging fruit, reform-wise, is in Cook County. The Toddler clearly has to go. It is almost impossible to imagine how anyone could be a worse board president. My heart is strongly with Toni Preckwinkle, a long-suffering City Council independent. Then again, I'm biased because she seems to be the kind of person, rare in Illinois politics, who has read a few books. Dorothy Brown would be better than the Toddler, but I don't trust her to take a deeply critical look at the county's disastrous budget. Terrence "White Person" O'Brien could spike Toni's chances in the white wards and townships and hand the race to Brown.

I'll do some more research and come back with more reads on the down-ballot races as time allows.

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posted by Benjamin Dueholm | 12:22 AM
For a "conscientious Illinois voter," that was the least intellectual rundown of the races I've seen. I especially take issue with your characterization of the senate race. I've heard Hoffman speak and he is remarkably intelligent and unassuming. I have also heard Giannoulias speak and he is the exact opposite, a total "wad." he travels with an entourage, brags about the idiotic things he's done and generally impresses the listener only with his tremendous sense of entitlement. I suggest you take a closer look at Hoffman before doing this state the disservice of voting for Alexi.
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