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Governor’s Day change at fair; ho-hum

As pretty much everyone knows by now, Gov. Pat Quinn created a bit of a stir this year because he canceled the traditional Governor’s Day activities at the Illinois State Fair.

Not the whole thing, mind you, just the mind-numbing political speeches that are the hallmark of the event.

A lot of different motives were ascribed to this. Like he wanted to deny a platform to his challenger, Bill Daley. Or he was still smarting from last year’s fiasco when his speech was drowned out by jeering unionized state workers upset with stalled contract talks and pending pension reform. Quinn, of course, denied those were the reasons.

Frankly, who cares? Unless there’s a spectacular meltdown like last year’s heckling, does anyone in the public remember what happens at these political events by the time Thanksgiving rolls around? And presumably Daley, a former White House chief of staff, will be able to overcome the heartbreak of not being able to give a speech on the fairgrounds.

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One of the more popular items that was distributed at Republican Day at the fair was a bumper sticker. It read “Blagojevich. No longer our worst governor.”

Ouch.

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Sen. Bill Brady of Bloomington, one of the Republicans hoping to replace Quinn, showed up to Republican Day wearing running shoes. It was in response to some bragging Quinn did a day earlier about his victory over Brady in the 2010 election.

“I was given a 9 percent chance of winning in the general election and I won, and Brady’s still looking for his gym shoes,” Quinn said.

So, lest there be any doubt, Brady showed that he had found his shoes and was ready for the race.

Quinn was sounding particularly plucky on Governor’s Day. Asked if he could win a three-way primary should another candidate get in the race, Quinn said, “I can win any election.”

Guess we’ll see.

They said it

n “I don’t think you got the memo from the governor’s office that you’re not allowed to eat until there’s pension reform.” – Sen. Andy Manar, D-Bunker Hill, at the annual brunch of Democratic Party officials last week.

n “Hollywood even made a movie in my honor called ‘Warhorse.’” – Comptroller Judy Baar Topinka at the state fair on her long involvement in politics.

n “There’s no question in the last election we took it in the shorts.” – Brady, summing up Republican fortunes in the 2010 elections.

n “I’m not here to run a popularity contest.” – Quinn, speaking to Democratic Party officials.

n “We’re going down the drain. We’re in a death spiral.” – Republican gubernatorial hopeful Bruce Rauner, offering a brief state-of-the-state message.

For all to see

Just what Illinois needed, a worldwide audience for its various major malfunctions.

The Economist magazine in its Aug. 10 edition succinctly summed up the embarrassing mess in Illinois in just about 2 pages of text. The Economist, for those not familiar with it, is a weekly news magazine that sets its sights on a somewhat-better-read audience than the old U.S. news weeklies.

The magazine cut to the chase in its headline “Dysfunctional Illinois. No plan, no pay. A tussle across three branches of government.”

From there, it got into Quinn’s vetoing of legislative salaries, the pension debt and its effects on the state budget, and the jockeying to be the next governor of Illinois. Along the way, the magazine offers some interesting commentary. It refers to Daley as “marginally better” as a choice for governor than Attorney General Lisa Madigan, given that they are both from politically powerful families.

Then again, the magazine referred to billionaire businessman Rauner as the “main Republican challenger.” Well, he does have a lot of money, but whether that means he’s the main Republican challenger is debatable.

Doug Finke of the State Capitol Bureau can be reached at 788-1527 or doug.finke@sj-r.com.

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