* My Sun-Times column today takes a look back while looking ahead…
I ran into Glenn Poshard the other day.
As I walked away from our pleasant little chitchat, I told my intern that Illinois would be a far different place today if Poshard had been elected governor in 1998 when he ran against George Ryan.
Federal prosecutors might not have had much interest in going after somebody who’d been voted out of public life. Even if they did, and Ryan still wound up in prison, he’d be an ex-secretary of state, not an ex-governor.
If the Democrat Poshard had prevailed, his fellow Dem Rod Blagojevich most likely wouldn’t have been elected governor four years later. Considering who he is, Blagojevich might’ve wound up in trouble with the law anyway, but not as our governor.
One big reason Poshard didn’t win was he was considered too far to the right for the Chicago area. Glenn Poshard was pro-gun, pro-life and anti-gay rights. Ryan had a reputation for being a conservative, but he ran to the left of Poshard on social issues and won.
Poshard won heavily Democratic Cook County by only 128,000 votes. To put that into perspective, Rod Blagojevich won Cook by over 500,000 votes in 2006. If Poshard had won Cook by just half that amount, he would’ve defeated George Ryan.
Sen. Bill Brady, the likely Republican gubernatorial nominee this year, has pretty much the same stances on social issues as Poshard.
Understandably, the Democrats will do all they can to scare people about Brady, and he isn’t doing himself any favors by reintroducing a constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriages and civil unions.
Brady also caught some heat this week for recently introducing a bill to re-legalize the currently banned use of gas chambers to “euthanize” large numbers of dogs and cats at once. Illinois is home to almost twice as many Illinois pet owners as expected voters this November. Oops.
When Ryan defeated Poshard in 1998, the economy was humming along wonderfully, the state budget had a billion-dollar surplus and the last governor to go to prison for acts committed while he was in office was 30 years earlier.
I’m not saying that abortion rights, or gay rights or gun rights or even pet rights are unimportant here. They are to a whole lot of people. That pet gassing bill might actually say more about who Brady is than anything else. All of it deserves coverage and plenty of debate.
But Illinois’ unemployment is now over 11 percent. The projected state budget deficit is almost half of its operating budget. We’ve got one former governor in prison and another one on deck.
So far, Gov. Quinn hasn’t really come up with many great ideas to solve most of these problems. His budget plans have been unworkable and have therefore been tossed aside; his economic plan is mostly confined to public works projects; his reforms, while significant, have fallen somewhat short.
Brady’s budget plan is to slash programs and cut taxes, so we need to know far more about how, exactly, those ideas would truly impact Illinois. His economic program is somewhat vague, and while some of his reform ideas are pretty good, it’s unclear whether he can make them happen.
So, by all means, let’s pay attention to the hot buttons and the character issues, but this year we all need to give at least equal weight to how these two guys intend to repair the wreckage created after Glenn Poshard lost to George Ryan. The times absolutely demand it.
* Meanwhile, Brady’s gas chamber bill has Michael Sneed and Gov. Pat Quinn in an uproar and Quinn is vowing to keep the story alive…
Gov. Quinn, the devoted owner of the state’s first dog, Bailey, is on the war path over a dangerous dog path.
• Translation: Quinn is aghast over legislation that was pushed by Quinn’s likely opponent, state Sen. Bill Brady, which could have allowed the mass killing of frightened, fighting and gasping shelter animals in a box of 10!
• Upshot: Quinn, who has a yelping 12-year-old Yorkshire terrier, is so incensed, he channeled up a dog legend Thursday. “If that bill had ever gotten out of the Legislature, I’d veto it faster than you can say Rin Tin Tin!” Quinn told Sneed.
• Tipshot: Watch for Quinn to show up Saturday at the dog rescue section of the 2010 Chicago Dog Show at McCormick Place to show his displeasure over the legislation, which wound up being gutted by Brady on Wednesday after being condemned as cruel by the Humane Society of the United States.
(The heinous legislation was first tipped in Rich Miller’s Capitol Fax newsletter, Springfield’s political must-read.)
• Dogshot: Sneed is told Quinn has invited Uno, the Westminster Kennel Club dog show award-winning Illinois beagle, to visit the mansion anytime.