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Jesse White kicks off final campaign

Wednesday, Sep 30, 2009

* Secretary of State Jesse White formally kicked off his reelection campaign yesterday. If he wins, and it’s more than just highly doubtful that anybody could beat him, he’ll get a fourth term. And if he serves out that term, he’ll have held the job longer than anyone else in Illinois history. But this will almost undoubtedly be his last campaign

“I’ve enjoyed this ride,” White said. “I want to ride it one more time, and I will always, always work on behalf of the people of the state of Illinois.”

White ran in 1998 and promised not to use the office as a springboard. Jim Edgar and George Ryan had both used their SoS tenure to get them elected governor. But White’s promise has meant that nobody else has been able to move up the ladder. SoS is a much coveted job, to say the least. So, while he’ll be lauded for the next year by members of both parties, inside many will be plotting their 2014 bids.

Most of the heavy-hitters showed up for White’s Chicago announcement yesterday…

On Tuesday, White was endorsed by fellow Democratic state office holders Gov. Pat Quinn, Attorney General Lisa Madigan and Treasurer Alexi Giannoulias. Comptroller Dan Hynes, who is challenging Quinn in the Democratic governor primary, did not appear because he was spending time with family, but also supports White, a campaign spokesman said.

Not too sure what to make of Hynes’ no-show.

…Adding… I’ve been told that Hynes’ twin sons had a birthday yesterday. Completely understandable why he missed the event.

White didn’t just announce in Chicago. He also headed Downstate

During a full day campaign run, starting in Chicago, stopping in Springfield, and ending in Marion, White made his intentions clear. He intends to hold office and do the best he can for Illinois for four more years. […]

During his stop in Marion, White spoke of what his office has been able to accomplish in past 11 years, including lowering the automobile accident death rate in persons 15-20 by 40 percent, increasing Internet traffic for the ISS office by 78 percent, and initiating a ban on texting while driving that will start in January of 2010.

White is a talented politician. He won all 102 Illinois counties in 2002 - an amazing feat. His work with the Jesse White Tumblers made him a hero in many minds. Few people even want to drive past Cabrini Green, let alone go in there and turn so many kids around…

Citing White’s biography – U.S. Army paratrooper, Chicago Cubs player, founder of the Jesse White Tumbling Team – [Attorney General Lisa Madigan] said, “It’s no wonder that Jesse White is the most popular elected official in the State of Illinois.”

And he wisely made some early moves to clean up his office which have allowed him to stay in the office

He inherited an office that was embroiled in a scandal that sent dozens of people to prison, but cleaned it up by banning employees from making campaign contributions to him, and by hiring an independent inspector general, former U.S. Attorney James B. Burns, who is still on the job today.

He’s about as close to unbeatable as one can get in politics. It’s no wonder that the Republicans had to search high and low and ended up with an amateur from Aurora to run against him.


- Posted by Rich Miller        

  1. - wordslinger - Wednesday, Sep 30, 09 @ 10:56 am:

    He was the only one to stand his ground in the Blago/Burris fiasco, as well. Reid and Durbin did a lot of tough talking, then caved almost immediately.

  2. - dupage dan - Wednesday, Sep 30, 09 @ 10:57 am:

    My son will end up a safer driver when he finally gets his license due to the laws enacted under Secretary White’s terms as SoS. His diligence in cleaning up the office has not gone unnoticed. It hasn’t mattered what political party he is from - honesty and integrity know no affiliation like that. Compare our drunk driving laws/enforcement with our neighbor to the north, Wisconsin, which even allows minors to drink in bars w/approval of parent and bartender (unbelievable, isn’t it?). I lived in Wisconsin and have family there and the laws/enforcement is pathetic.

    I wish there were more like him. This conservative will gladly “pull the lever” for Secretary White.

  3. - HoosierDaddy - Wednesday, Sep 30, 09 @ 10:58 am:

    What can you say? He’s a popular guy, he does a good job. How do you run against that?

  4. - Small Town Liberal - Wednesday, Sep 30, 09 @ 11:07 am:

    At the risk of seeming completely uninformed, has White shown support for any of the gubernatorial candidates?

  5. - TaxThePoor? - Wednesday, Sep 30, 09 @ 11:14 am:

    Has Jesse White paid off those campaign finance violation fines yet? The ones Madigan and Jones tried to “forgive” in a pay to play exchange for putting Bush on the ballot when the Republicans ignored Illinois’ election law deadline? Weren’t Jesse White’s campaign finance violation fines more than $500,000 at one point?

    It will be interesting to see how big the throw all the bums out sentiment really is in Illinois and Jesse White’s votes will be a good indicator of that.

  6. - Anon - Wednesday, Sep 30, 09 @ 11:18 am:

    You only have to look at Jesse’s D-2s to see that most of his senior staff contribute to his campaign - at least until very recently if it’s changed at all.

    Great politician. But FAR from perfect. Let’s not get carried away.

  7. - Nikoli - Wednesday, Sep 30, 09 @ 11:20 am:

    It says something for the guy when the GOP scramble to find a nobody to run against him.
    The same can be said about Lisa Madigan…

  8. - TaxThePoor? - Wednesday, Sep 30, 09 @ 11:26 am:

    I found references that Jesse White’s campaign finance violation fines were actually set at $800,000 after the investigation, not $500,000.

    10% for the Green Party candidate in this race?

  9. - Rich Miller - Wednesday, Sep 30, 09 @ 11:27 am:

    ===10% for the Green Party candidate in this race? ===

    LOL. Bet?

  10. - OneMan - Wednesday, Sep 30, 09 @ 11:41 am:

    What’s wrong with amateurs from Aurora?

    Guess I have a bias.

    But yeah, especially after the Burris thing, the man deserves respect from all of us.

  11. - VanillaMan - Wednesday, Sep 30, 09 @ 11:46 am:

    Jesse White and Rod Blagojevich both inherited offices from George Ryan. Ryan’s scandals actually occured when he was Secretary of State, so White actually was elected to clean up the scene of the corruption that brought Ryan down while serving as govenror.

    Take a good look at how well Jesse White handled this, then take a look at how poorly Rod Blagojevich handled it. Blagojevich used the Ryan scandal to win in 2002 as a reformer, but Ryan’s crimes didn’t occur while George was governor. As a governor, Ryan wasn’t the scandal clown we remember him as.

    Jesse White was the real reformer. His commitment to not use the Secretary of State office position as a stepping stone to the governor’s office clearly demonstrated a different approach to that office. White’s public commitment to serve Illinoisans instead of himself was what was needed in the SOS office at that time. White’s political decision would not have been made by most other politicians. Jesse White committed to “sacrificing” his political career. That personal decision, regardless of how it was made, was what was needed and White’s political success began in 1998.

    I won’t even trouble you with how the Blagojevich thing turned out, because we all know too well, even if the author of “The Governor” isn’t willing to acknowledge it.

    So please note all you reformers out there at what Jesse White accomplished here. It is important, because we are still recovering from the Blagojevich scandals and looking for ways to restore faith in Illinois government. Take a look at how Jesse White did it.

    It is unfortunately common to watch statewide elected officials place their personal political goals over doing the jobs they were elected to do. It has become unfortunately acceptable when politicians have no interest in their jobs beyond it’s ability to promote their name as a stepping stone to more power within government. We cannot expect good government from men and women who are insincere in their interest in our public offices. It could be said in the strictest sense that when politicians use their public offices as political ladders, they are abusing these offices and corrupting them as well. As political observers, we need to recognize the damage this commonly accepted political move does to the citizens of our state.

    We need more folks like Jesse White, don’t we? If we are really interested in reforming governments, we need more public citizens who understand their temporal impact as politicians, and elect fewer hungry politicians who will rip us off by not doing their jobs as they had promised us they would do.

  12. - Pat collins - Wednesday, Sep 30, 09 @ 11:58 am:

    Well said, VM. But I do think that running for a higher office is ok, as long as job performance is what drives the run, not using the office as a fund raising machine.

  13. - Wacker Drive - Wednesday, Sep 30, 09 @ 12:01 pm:

    Hoo Ray!
    Secretary of State Jesse White is the only Illinois politician who’s not corrupt.
    He’s got my vote,

  14. - VanillaMan - Wednesday, Sep 30, 09 @ 12:01 pm:

    Who among us could have foreseen how quickly the SOS office was reformed without incident? White could have screwed this up. We had an emotional tragedy making news regarding a scandal within this office, but White got the job done without it blowing up in his face. He took the right moves and no further scandals caused by reforming the office occurred.

    Let’s not just thank Jesse White for what he did - thank him for handling this situation without making news too. As we saw with the Blagojevich administration, we could have had someone stepping into the SOS office and politicizing every step they take, label those working within the Office as corrupted, do mass firings or put everyone on notice, or insult everyone who ever worked in the SOS office. If Blagojevich was elected SOS, this very well could have happened. Fortunately White did this right. His re-election wins are well deserved, aren’t they?

  15. - TaxThePoor? - Wednesday, Sep 30, 09 @ 12:03 pm:

    10% could be done, but its not likely enough to bet on at this point in time, you are correct. Still, Blago trial smell in the air, really weak Republican, depressed Dem turnout, lack of media attention on the race, throw the bums out sentiment increasing after another foreclosure bubble burst, unemployment bump, and poverty level increase and the 2010 election could be full of surprises. I wouldn’t have bet Whitney would get 10% last time either, but he did. And 2010 has the potential now to be much more interesting I believe.

    Who is the Green candidate? Female? That would help a couple percent versus two male candidates based on history.

    Aren’t there more independents than Ds and Rs now? I would bet it’s gonna to start showing up at the ballot box more and more if voters have a choice.

  16. - Lincoln Parker - Wednesday, Sep 30, 09 @ 12:15 pm:

    Aside from cleaning up the corruption and problems in the office, he has helped deliver the services better. I remember going to a DMV shortly after he was elected and it was a horrible mess, waited for hours and hours. I didn’t have to go back for 5 years after that it was night and day difference. Been there a few times lately, I think the longest I’ve waited was 20 minutes. The people have been helpful (for govt. workers) and always gotten what I needed done quickly and easily. I’m sure it wasn’t easy accomplishing all these changes.

    I do wish though he didn’t have to plaster his name on everything though. Let’s just hope whoever is next can do the job with the same integrity.

  17. - Indianbadger - Wednesday, Sep 30, 09 @ 12:28 pm:

    Another point not mentioned here is his advocacy of Organ Donation. I certainly signed up because of his ads and advocacy.

  18. - Rich Miller - Wednesday, Sep 30, 09 @ 12:30 pm:


    No such thing in Illinois.

  19. - cover - Wednesday, Sep 30, 09 @ 12:34 pm:

    Rich, are you posting an over/under on the Green candidate? I agree with you, there’s no way the Green gets 10%. If you set the over/under as low as 3%, I’ll still take the under.

  20. - yinn - Wednesday, Sep 30, 09 @ 1:04 pm:

    I’ve had dealings with SoS as a driver, a genealogist and a local-issues blogger. My customer service experiences have been dandy for quite some time, and the amount of information and services available online continue to grow. I would like to meet Jesse White someday and shake his hand. He’s a one-person antidote to the culture of mediocrity.

  21. - Lincoln Parker - Wednesday, Sep 30, 09 @ 1:32 pm:

    I used DMV as shorthand, I wasn’t really sure what to call them, SoSF?

    yinn, I have met him and shaken his hand a few times. I’ve seen him quite a bit at Mitchell’s in Lincoln Park.

  22. - Louis Howe - Wednesday, Sep 30, 09 @ 2:49 pm:

    Two words describe Jesse White….Class Act.

  23. - Ned Baytee - Wednesday, Sep 30, 09 @ 3:26 pm:

    Good Luck Jesse!!! We love you big guy…..

  24. - Hon. Cranial Lamb - Wednesday, Sep 30, 09 @ 4:43 pm:

    White’s done a good job.

    I’ll bet someone a dollar he doesn’t finish his term.

    Luckily White won’t get to name his own replacement otherwise we’d have to get our licenses from Secretary of State Ken Duncan!

  25. - Honest Abe - Wednesday, Sep 30, 09 @ 5:36 pm:

    Can we ever dispense with the claim that Jesse White played for the Chicago Cubs? His professional career ended in the minor leagues and he never reached the majors.

  26. - Mountain Man - Wednesday, Sep 30, 09 @ 6:18 pm:

    Class act is right!

    Its really too bad he didn’t use the office as a springboard. The people of Illinois could do (and have done) far worse in our Governors…

  27. - PFK - Thursday, Oct 1, 09 @ 9:01 am:

    Adrian Frost is the only known Green Party candidate for Secretary of State. Frost is likely to become only the second openly gay candidate for statewide office to appear on a general election ballot in IL. The first one was Green Party candidate Dan Rodriguez-Schlorff, candidate for state Treasurer in 2006. Getting to 10% in this race will be difficult, because it’s not one that the media will pay much attention to, unfortunately. However, Frost could make a good showing if he puts forth some effort.

Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.

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