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Narrow Quinn win not a mandate

Published: Saturday, Nov. 13, 2010 1:15 a.m. CDT

Four counties.

According to unofficial vote totals, that’s how many of the state’s 102 counties Gov. Pat Quinn won in last week’s election. Quinn won Cook, Alexander, St. Clair and Jackson counties.

As Springfield reporter Kurt Erickson pointed out, Quinn’s win in Cook County was expected. Jackson County is the home of his running mate, Sheila Simon; Alexander County is small and machine-controlled; and St. Clair County has been a reliable Democratic county for decades.

The fact that Quinn won only four counties doesn’t diminish the fact that he will be governor for the next 4 years.

But it should have an impact on the way he governs. The vote clearly demonstrates that downstate folks are not happy with the way things are in Springfield.

Quinn’s narrow victory over Republican Bill Brady, a margin of 16,000 votes among more than 3 million cast, clearly isn’t a mandate. It’s certainly not a mandate when you consider that 96 percent of the counties went against the sitting governor.

The Democrats remain in power. Only two seats in the Senate and six in the House switched to Republicans, even after a disastrous 8 years of Democrats controlling the governor’s office and both chambers.

Obviously, the biggest issue facing Quinn is the state’s financial mess. The state is more than $13 billion in the hole, and the hole is even bigger if you add the obligations to the state’s various pension funds. Quinn has advocated a 1 percent increase in the state income tax, but so far has not been able to get his Democratic counterparts to go along.

That’s a bad idea, but even if it is approved, it would not solve all of the state’s financial woes.

Now that the election is over, the key question for Quinn is whether he can become governor for the whole state, or whether he will be content to be governor for four counties.

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