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Daley & Quinn, the latest hot item

Monday, Sep 28, 2009

* My latest syndicated newspaper column was written and submitted before this bit of news broke on Friday

A festering dispute between Gov. Pat Quinn and his Democratic primary challenger, Comptroller Dan Hynes, over paying bills for lottery and tourism advertising may be moving toward an uneasy political resolution.

Hynes announced Friday his office will pay the bills, but he and Quinn still couldn’t agree on who blinked first.

* But the overall point still stands, mainly because I wrote that the issue was far less important than the politics involved. Here it is

Gov. Pat Quinn brought out one of the biggest Democratic Party guns possible last week in his latest fight with state Comptroller Dan Hynes.

As you already know, Hynes is running against Quinn for the Democratic nomination. Hynes recently refused to process several million dollars worth of state payments for tourism programs and various consulting contracts. Hynes said he’ll pay them only if Quinn insists they are vital to the state’s interests.

So Quinn held a press conference with Chicago Mayor Richard Daley last week. They were preparing to leave for Denmark for the final push to bring the 2016 Summer Olympic Games to Chicago. The event was billed as a basic “rah rah” for Illinois tourism and the Olympics.

“This press conference is on that alone,” Daley warned reporters during his prepared remarks. “Just more tourists and more conventions into the city.”

But, as with just about everything in this state, no gubernatorial news conference is ever purely about government. And with Hynes’ recent action, the governor’s media event took on a decidedly campaign feel - with Quinn having all the clout on his side.

What about Hynes’ refusal to pay those tourism bills, the governor was asked. “Well, y’know, that’s politics,” Quinn said with no little irritation. “This is serious, this is all about jobs. I work with Mayor Daley every day, and I have since I was sworn in.”

Quinn then turned the gush spigot on full blast about his new bestest buddy.

“I want to thank the mayor publicly. The day I got sworn in, he called and he was there to help me in a tough time for our whole state of Illinois,” Quinn said.

Daley himself chimed in about the controversy without prompting.

“You just can’t sit back and say, ‘They’re (tourists) gonna come to the city of Chicago.’ It doesn’t work that way.”

Daley then returned the governor’s favor by praising the event’s host.

“I think that Gov. Quinn has realized that, that you … really have to work to try to get the conventions here,” the mayor said.

Hynes didn’t back down. He demanded again that Quinn resubmit the bills for processing.

Quinn didn’t back away, either. The governor said he won’t resubmit the bills to the comptroller’s office, adding that Hynes ought to just do the job he was elected to do.

Unfortunately for Hynes, the politics of the event is far more important than the actual issue.

Anyone who has watched Daley knows he rarely makes these sorts of public appearances. He almost never overtly endorses anyone in primary elections, particularly statewide primaries.

But Daley’s presence at an event that was ostensibly governmental but overtly political had the effectct of all but endorsing Quinn against Hynes. The fact that Daley spoke up and denounced Hynes’ action as an attempt to hurt tourism should send chills through the Hynes campaign.

One doesn’t mess with two things in Chicago if one hopes to thrive politically: Until recently, the only off-limits topic was the patronage-rich O’Hare International Airport. But the city’s Olympics bid was added several months ago to Daley’s “Do Not Touch” short-list. To mix my metaphors, Hynes has stepped on a third rail. He should’ve known better.

And that brings us to the inherent irony in this primary election battle.

On the one hand we have Hynes, who was brought up in, and brought to the political dance by one of the most influential Democratic machine households in Chicago. That same guy has asked that he not be endorsed by the Cook County Democratic Party and quickly has found himself on the wrong side of Daley.

On the other hand, we have Quinn, who railed against the machine for years and was, in turn, despised by that very machine. He just won the Cook County Democratic endorsement and then held hands with Daley at a very public lovefest.

Right now, anyway, Quinn actually looks more believable in this bizarre role reversal than Hynes, mainly because he has all the advantages of incumbency. At the moment, Hynes just looks like somebody who is making excuses for why he can’t win and is picking fights that, for the moment, are making him more enemies than friends.

- Posted by Rich Miller        

20 Comments
  1. - Cassandra - Monday, Sep 28, 09 @ 9:06 am:

    Would it be possible for Hynes to take advantage of downstaters’ and suburbanites’ unease with a state that is run by Chicago’s Democratic machine. After all, it’s the Chicago Machine that brought our state Blagojevich. And every suburban Democrat who voted for Obama isn’t necessarily going to vote for Daley’s new best friend.

    Or is Hynes viewed as too close to that Machine himself, by way of his family connections.

    Perhaps a viable Republican would more credibly be the anti-Democratic Machine candidate, leaving Hynes, well, nowhere.


  2. - Inish - Monday, Sep 28, 09 @ 9:09 am:

    Again- using the lens of the average voter- does Daley’s endorsement help or hurt you currently? It was my understanding that Daley’s approval rating is sliding and people are becoming increasingly uncomfortable with the “Olympics at any cost” push. Again- my perception of the general population.


  3. - VanillaMan - Monday, Sep 28, 09 @ 9:12 am:

    Hynes has a lot to offer as a gubernatorial candidate, yet his campaign staffers are mishandling Hynes’ strengths at a time when voters should be flocking to him.

    Not only does Hynes look like an amateur among his own party people, he looks like an amateur to most primary voters with his blatantly political move to not pay bills. I don’t know who is calling the shots over there - but someone should check them out to see if they actually work for Quinn, because they haven’t a clue how to bring Dan Hynes’ positive to this campaign.

    This whole stunt was stupid from the get-go. The dummies running his campaign now need to get the get-go, and perhaps rediscover how to do door-to-door retail politics. After what has happened to their candidate over the past two weeks - the whole lot of them should be fired immediately. They have ruined Hynes’ campaign at a crucial time.


  4. - wordslinger - Monday, Sep 28, 09 @ 9:14 am:

    A Daley endorsement would certainly provide cover for any old-timey ward or township organizations who wanted to bail on Hynes. If the Daleys can stick it to the Hynes, anyone can.

    Still, I don’t think Quinn has him wrapped up, yet.


  5. - VanillaMan - Monday, Sep 28, 09 @ 9:16 am:

    Hynes announced Friday his office will pay the bills, but he and Quinn still couldn’t agree on who blinked first.

    The Comptroller blinked because Comptrollers can’t punk Governors. I can’t begin to explain just how obviously stupid that move was.

    Sorry Bill, Dan’s campaign staffers are idiots.


  6. - siu alum - Monday, Sep 28, 09 @ 9:30 am:

    Just curious, but didn’t John Daley vote for Hynes during the Cook County slating process? What gives?


  7. - Ghost - Monday, Sep 28, 09 @ 9:44 am:

    I have to agree with VM on this.

    Who ever is doing strategy for Hynes looks like they are using an eight ball to pick good ideas.

    on Hynes chances right now….. Outlook cloudy, ask later….


  8. - Anonymous45 - Monday, Sep 28, 09 @ 9:44 am:

    I am I being too cynical in thinking that Dan’s campaign is being run to keep away other primary opponents?

    I see a bright future in the Obama administration/private industry for Hynes. Dan’s a super guy, but he just doesn’t have the personality, drive, and/or staff to succede in high political office.

    Family ties can only carry you so far…


  9. - Bill - Monday, Sep 28, 09 @ 9:51 am:

    Vannie,
    Think what you want but Hynes runs his office and his campaign and both staffs, not the other way around.
    He tries not to let politics interfere with the way he performs his state duties. He is going to do what he thinks is right regardless of the political consequences. That’s just the way he is.
    To the issue:
    Despite what the mayor thinks(?) and says I would rather that the state pay its long overdue bills to medical providers than to pay for politically connected pr firms to advertise for the lottery and tourism. Whether or not the comptroller should make this decision is questionable but, at least someone is trying to pay attention to what is going on fiscally in our state. What is the governor going to do if the much awaited February income tax increase fails to pass? He is spending the entire 12 month appropriation in the first 4 or 5 months of the fiscal year. What is he going to do when the state runs out of money? Based on his behavior so far he will probably just blame the GA and call legislators names. Where will the mayor get his precious ad money then with the state in default?


  10. - Amalia - Monday, Sep 28, 09 @ 10:34 am:

    john daley voted for Hynes in committee. the mayor is playing nice with Quinn in public. this is what the Daleys ALWAYS do.
    find some angles and play them. they win either way.

    as for the Hynes campaign, the Sarah Feigenholtz campaign was managed by the Hynes manager. and it was not good. from really bad mail (we are talking some of the worst mail, the strange sepia tone/ancient vibe, piece after piece) to strange candidate management, it was just not good when it really could have worked. looks like we are watching more of the same.


  11. - regular democrat - Monday, Sep 28, 09 @ 10:54 am:

    Amalia is RIGHT on. If the same peron is running the Hynes campaign then put a fork in him…he is done. Amalia’s post is the best and most accurate I have seen since I started reading the blog. Excellent work.


  12. - VanillaMan - Monday, Sep 28, 09 @ 10:59 am:

    Think what you want but Hynes runs his office and his campaign and both staffs, not the other way around. He tries not to let politics interfere with the way he performs his state duties. He is going to do what he thinks is right regardless of the political consequences. That’s just the way he is.

    When Hynes said no to paying the bills for Your Hero’s illegal vaccinations, what we have is the Comptroller putting a halt to a blatantly political move by a blatantly corrupted governor. Hynes was doing his job, and looking good because the governor’s move was obviously illegal. (But thanks anyway for that great idea Rahm!) Hynes did back then, what White did regarding the Burris appointment - he took a good stand, based on law and ethics.

    This time Hynes said no to a perfectly legal billing. It was a blatant political move this time. Nearly everyone gasped at it’s boldness and/or stupidity. Comptrollers can’t force Governors on legal issues. On vaccinations, Hynes wins by halting an illegal billing. On this, Hynes loses by halting a legal billing for political reasons.

    Now whether it was Hynes himself or his staff, it was a political move that has damaged his campaign - and justifiably so. The Comptroller’s Office did the wrong thing, just as the Governor’s Office did the wrong thing regarding vaccinations years ago.

    If you want to believe Hynes was just doing his job regarding this, you are failing to do what he also failed to do - recognize the difference between these two situations. After serving as our comptroller for a decade, we expect our comptroller to recognize his office’s constitutional limits. He demonstrated that he doesn’t.


  13. - Will County Woman - Monday, Sep 28, 09 @ 11:58 am:

    The Lord knows how I try to be good. But, this is one that I just couldn’t resist…

    Given that there is much Daley fatigue in Chicago, on the parking meters etc., is it really in Quinn’s best interest to have support from Daley. Quinn’s days of running as the “good government guy” are kaput, but doesn’t this just further tarnish his brand if he was hoping to capitalize on past?

    And, if Daley doesn’t get the 2016 Olympics, then what then will he and Quinn do? Blame Hynes?


  14. - chiatty - Monday, Sep 28, 09 @ 12:36 pm:

    The politics of this race are somewhat counterintuitive as this post suggests, but the bottom line is that Pat Quinn won’t be able to raise the money to be competitive and the longer that he governs, the more incompetent he will appear to interested voters. Dan Hynes is not the brightest bulb in the store, but he’ll be a much better campaigner and, hopefully, a better governor as well…


  15. - Amalia - Monday, Sep 28, 09 @ 12:51 pm:

    regular democrat: thanks for the props, but…. you should read more on this blog! there are some REALLY amazing folks who post. some of my regular favorites are Wordslinger, Vanilla Man, and, yes, even Cassandra, cause she cares even if I disagree almost always with her.


  16. - regular democrat - Monday, Sep 28, 09 @ 2:27 pm:

    Your welcome Amalia. Everyone is great from top to bottom. Keep up the good work


  17. - fedup dem - Monday, Sep 28, 09 @ 3:24 pm:

    Note to siu alum: John Daley’s vote for Hynes at slating may be ancient history now. I suggest that if you wish to read the current tea leafs, one should travel down to Bridgeport and see if the 11th Ward is circulating Quinn or Hynes petitions.


  18. - Okay Then... - Monday, Sep 28, 09 @ 4:00 pm:

    Re: Dan Hynes controls his campaign operation

    a lawyer representing himself has a fool for a client?

    Hynes should have sought an experienced campaign team that has beat a weak incumbent. They’re are people/campaign staffs out there with this sort of experience for sure. If Dan is running pretty much everything his one big fatal mistake so far is not telling voters who he is. Also, his rollout should not have been about the budget it should have been about him and his vision for the state.

    Raising taxes on “rich” people making $200,000/yr ain’t fair and ain’t right. Talk to New York about it.


  19. - Mighty M. Mouse - Monday, Sep 28, 09 @ 6:55 pm:

    Dan Hynes campaign is a joke. He never has really had to campaign; he got the nod to run in the first place as comptroller because of his father, and after that he coasted as the incumbent in the job of essentially being a bookkeeper. The job gave him little opportunity to demonstrate leadership, and even then he hardly took full advantage of it. He lacks personality, competent staff, and he is a lifeless campaigner. Finally, as best as I can tell his reason for running for governor is because he absolutely refused to run for re-election as comptroller yet one more time again. What an awful reason to run for governor!

    By contrast, Quinn is a tireless campaigner who has always aspired to be governor and now has the job, along with its endless opportunities to show leadership, which he tries (sometimes somewhat successfully), to do. Quinn has had to fight for everything he has ever achieved, and all without the benefit of a daddy who could arrange to install him into a statewide office. Quinn has won several elections and lost several elections and has been truly battle tested in numerous attempts for several different offices. Quinn’s historic Achille’s heel has been his inability to raise significant sums of money, but that problem tends to disappear when you’re a sitting governor, and that is now happening for him. Finally, toiling in the wilderness for a few decades, Quinn became a master of free media. Having no money, he had little choice. But when you take a true master of free media and give him the bully pulpit of the governor’s office and the ability to raise serious money for the first time in his life, he becomes a formidible foe indeed.

    And now Quinn is getting some endorsements, like the mayor’s virtual endorsement. What a surprise! Dan Hynes is really more like a sparring partner than a serious opponent for Quinn. He’s the best primary opponent Quinn could ever have hoped for.


  20. - yipes - Monday, Sep 28, 09 @ 7:53 pm:

    Daley and Quinn are now BFF. How could a good government type ever align themselves with Daley? Also, didn’t Jay Stewart make a career out of calling Daley’s administration corrupt? Now Jay works work Quinn and everyone loves Daley.

    Illinois corrupts everyone!


Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.


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