Have you seen the Crain’s endorsements yet? Wow. Commenters kept urging me to read it, but I was a bit busy and simply forgot.
The Crain’s editorial is by far the strongest denunciation of a sitting Illinois governor that I have ever seen. It’s even harsher than the magazine’s round of primary endorsements.
Her opponent, Gov. Rod Blagojevich, has presided over an administration of unparalleled venality, and for that reason alone we cannot endorse him.
A man who ran as a self-styled reformer four years ago has taken the stateâ€™s pay-to-play system to new heights. His campaign promise to â€œend business as usualâ€ in Springfield has been kept only in the sense that payola politics now far exceeds what had been usual before he took office.
Gov. Blagojevich allowed his top political fund-raisers to dole out state jobs and steer state contracts as rewards for campaign contributions. In so doing, he made it clear that state government is for sale.
Now a trail of indictments is working its way toward the governorâ€™s office, forcing him into the last refuge of the political scoundrel: claiming ignorance of what goes on in his own administration.
In sum, Gov. Blagojevich has disgraced himself and the state. Nothing he may have accomplished in office can erase that taint or entitle him to another term. Voters must send a strong message that Illinois will no longer tolerate the corruption his regime has fostered.
The Democratic incumbent portrays himself as the champion of the little guy. But the working people of Illinois bear the ultimate cost of pay-to-play politics. When the state is for sale, those without cash are excluded.
*** UPDATE *** The Post-Dispatch goes the other way.
Largely because Rod Blagojevich is governor of Illinois, 500,000 more people have health coverage, and all children without health insurance can get state coverage.
Largely because of Mr. Blagojevich, thousands of Illinoisans on the bottom of the economic heap got a raise as the state increased the minimum wage to $6.50 from $5.15 an hour.
Largely because of Mr. Blagojevich, free pre-school classes are being opened for all 4-year-olds.
When Mr. Blagojevich saw that elderly Illinoisans were struggling to pay for their medications, he set up a program to import them from Canada, defying drug companies and Bush administration bureaucrats. The program never really caught on â€” only 3,700 state residents use it â€” but it was a worthy effort.
Rod Blagojevich, the son of an immigrant steel worker, is a man of compassion. His policies have done much for ordinary folk who never could give a dime to his campaign fund. Those policies have earned him our endorsement for re-election.
*** UPDATE x2 *** As I mentioned in comments, Crain’s endorsed Blagojevich in 2002. Here’s part of it.
For decades, the Republican Party has had a stranglehold on the governor’s office. And though the GOP enjoyed its share of triumphs during that time, it’s become apparent in recent years that this concentration of power also has a dark side, as evidenced by displays of blatant cronyism, woeful ethics and some very costly wheeling and dealing. The next governor will have to clean up this unholy political mess, while at the same time finding a tangible way to ease the fiscal crisis Illinois will assuredly suffer next year, when it posts a $2-billion-plus budget deficit.
As important, the next governor must stretch himself to be more than a good bureaucratic cost-cutter or aggressive naysayer. He must become highly attuned to the state’s commercial needs and be proactive about fostering a healthy business environment, especially during these tough economic times.
This is a huge job. It requires someone with vision, energy and the etermination to shake up the Springfield status quo. Of the two major gubernatorial candidates, Democrat Rod Blagojevich offers the greatest appetite for change and the political will that’s essential to produce this crucial transformation. For those important reasons, Mr. Blagojevich is Crain’s choice for Illinois governor.
During the campaign, Mr. Blagojevich has repeatedly vowed to clean up the excesses of state government. He promises to halt initiatives that provide individual state lawmakers with funds to back pork barrel projects, and will do a top-to-bottom overhaul of state finances, cutting costs and eliminating waste.