Our view: Screening 2014 candidates for Illinois
A governor with grit.
• Ability to get lawmakers from different political parties to reach consensus.
• Not beholden to special interests groups.
• Fiscally responsible. Ability to balance personal checkbook a plus.
• Has a business background and can persuade companies to locate here, despite recent unwelcoming gestures, like tax increases.
• The ability to maneuver necessary legislation – totally off the top of our heads here, maybe a measure that reforms the state’s $97 billion and growing unfunded pension liability? – successfully through the General Assembly with little or no help from legislative leaders. This is a deal-breaker, since despite both being Democrats from Chicago, the Illinois House speaker and Senate president tend to squabble like 2-year-olds fighting over a favorite toy instead of compromising on pretty much anything.
Not surprisingly, there are no lack of candidates – even before we started crafting this “want ad” – for a job that doesn’t start until January 2015 and where applications from major party candidates can be turned in as late as December to be on the March 2014 primary.
Illinois Treasurer Dan Rutherford and venture capitalist Bruce Rauner — both Republicans – plan to run for their party’s nomination. GOP state Sens. Kirk Dillard and Bill Brady also have expressed interest.
Incumbent Gov. Pat Quinn could face former White House chief of staff Bill Daley and/or Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan in the Democratic primary.
Whether any of them would succeed if elected is another thing entirely. We haven’t forgotten that in April 2012, Quinn said he was “put on this earth” to solve the state’s pension woes. We should have pressed him for a time frame on that one.
We hope there’s a candidate who meets the above qualifications – and who possesses the courage, conviction and tenacity to get results if given the job.
While we mentioned pension reform above, we pray lawmakers will have addressed that long before the next governor takes office.
Because if January 2015 arrives and pensions haven’t been dealt with, it might be too late for any governor – regardless his or her qualifications – to save our state.
There might not be too many of us left to govern, anyway. How many employers and employees already are looking at options in other, more business- and taxpayer-friendly states?