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I just can’t decide

Friday, Oct 22, 2010

* My Sun-Times column

Usually around this point in a campaign, some pundit will spout off about how undecided voters ought to just stay home on Election Day if they haven’t yet made up their minds.

For crying out loud, the argument goes, if you can’t come to a conclusion after seeing all the ads and reading all the stories, then why foist your uninformed views on the rest of us?

Normally, I might agree with those snarky types. But not this year.

For one, the news media just haven’t done their job, so I can’t blame the masses for being underinformed. The Chicago media have been so wrapped up in covering next year’s mayor’s race that they’ve ignored this year’s state races. And by foolishly focusing on Rahm Emanuel’s every breath, they’ve screwed up their coverage of two elections at the same time. That has to be some kind of record.

But here’s my little secret. I’m completely undecided. I really have no clue who I’m voting for at the top of the ticket. And I have no excuses about being uninformed. Politics is not only my job but my life, so I read just about everything published about every candidate. I’ve read their position papers, I’ve listened to their interviews, I’ve watched all the debates.

Some might say I’ve just overloaded my brain with too much information. But I do that every year. I’ve come to the conclusion that it’s a problem with the candidates. Not me.

If Gov. Quinn is elected and proceeds to govern the next four years like he has the last two, we’ll never dig ourselves out of this hole.

Quinn has enormous trouble making a decision, and when he finally does make up his mind he more often than not flip-flops, then flip-flops again. I’ll need to buy a neck brace if he gets four years. And our state’s serious structural problems may never be solved.

And then there’s Bill Brady. This man has yet to show me that he has even a tiny bit of a clue about what he faces if he’s sworn in. You can’t balance the state’s completely out of whack budget in one year with a 10 percent cut and a billion-dollar tax reduction. Not without a truckload of magic beans anyway.

That other newspaper’s Brady endorsement was extremely telling. Pretty much the entire editorial focused on how bad Quinn is. They essentially just crossed their big blue fingers and hoped for the best from Brady without any real evidence. I’m not willing to do that.

Moving to the U.S. Senate race, we have Mark Kirk the policy wonk without a moral center vs. Alexi Giannoulias the policy lite juvenile.

We haven’t had a person as credentialed as Kirk run for the Senate here since the sainted Paul Simon. And yet, his outright and repeated fabrications about his military service record turn my stomach. I can report on him without a problem, but I just can’t bring myself to vote for him.

Giannoulias has been running for Senate for more than a year now and yet I always get the feeling that he’s the kid who shows up for finals without ever cracking open his textbook. Charm is not enough in the world’s most elite legislative chamber. Hard work and long hours of study are required to succeed. Giannoulias is too often embarrassingly unprepared, even when he has been asked the same questions before.

None of these people are all bad. Quinn’s heart is as big as the state. Brady really does want to try to fix what’s wrong.

Kirk is an earnest hard worker. Giannoulias has shown a real capacity to empathize with people less fortunate than himself.

But none of that is enough.

I don’t expect politicians to be perfect or even close to perfect. But these four guys don’t even measure up to Illinois’ normally low standards.

Candidates are supposed to grow during a campaign. These guys have shrunk.

* Related…

* Uncertain economy key driver for Illinois voters

- Posted by Rich Miller        

  1. - just sayin' - Friday, Oct 22, 10 @ 9:32 am:

    “For one, the news media just haven’t done their job, so I can’t blame the masses for being underinformed.”

    Truer words were never spoken.

  2. - Cheryl44 - Friday, Oct 22, 10 @ 9:35 am:

    Rich Whitney. LeAlan Jones.

  3. - Angry Chicagoan - Friday, Oct 22, 10 @ 9:37 am:

    And this media problem is not just local but national. I saw a little blurb the other day from the Washington Post’s Chris Cillizza and felt my brain cells start to atrophy. And that’s it. It’s as shallow as that. Who’s up, who’s down, who said something mildly embarrassing and who Botoxed their nose. Nothing about the policy or the plan or even the character.

  4. - Jo - Friday, Oct 22, 10 @ 9:40 am:

    Well, there’s always the prostitute-knifing, deadbeat-dad, pawnshop owner Scott Lee Cohen.

  5. - heliwoman - Friday, Oct 22, 10 @ 9:41 am:

    I thought it was just me being undecided and felt that I shouldn’t be, given how I follow it. It’s a relief to know that I’m not the only one. I just don’t see how this budget crisis is going to be reduced without raising taxes and no one wants to do so or say so. No one wants to address it except by vague overstatements.

  6. - Phineas J. Whoopee - Friday, Oct 22, 10 @ 9:41 am:

    If you are truly undecided and confused about this election their really is a simple solution.

    You need to ask yourself, what would Rahm do?

  7. - Niles Township - Friday, Oct 22, 10 @ 9:44 am:

    I’m splitting the difference, and picking one Dem and one GOPer, Quinn and Kirk for me.

  8. - Pot calling kettle - Friday, Oct 22, 10 @ 9:44 am:

    I felt the same way. I voted early and it was one of the toughest votes I had to make. Ultimately, I went with Quinn because Brady seems too locked into the cutting taxes and cutting spending line mentality. And, frankly, Brady is much too conservative for Illinois; his views simply don’t represent even 1/3 of the electorate. If Brady wins, I think there will be a lot of buyers’ remorse. (Kirk Dillard would probably have been a shoe-in had he made it through the primary.)

  9. - Jo - Friday, Oct 22, 10 @ 9:46 am:

    Ooops, forgot bribe-paying.

  10. - WRMNpolitics - Friday, Oct 22, 10 @ 9:52 am:

    The I can’t decide viewpoint has become an overriding theme in this years election cycle with both major parties putting up candidates who are either unqualified, under informed , morally compromised or retreads. The question is does the average voter choose the least objectionable candidate or just say “who cares” and not vote at all?

  11. - walter sobchak - Friday, Oct 22, 10 @ 9:53 am:

    I hadn’t decided either, but when the most astute political observer in the state, knowing both of the candidates, can only list ‘a capacity to empathize with people less fortunate than himself’ as a reason to vote for Giannoulias my decision is made. Faux concern for the less fortunate is rather common when running for office. Does the name John Edwards ring a bell?

  12. - Who Cares - Friday, Oct 22, 10 @ 9:55 am:

    For me, it’s the lesser of two evils. With Quinn I think I have a better idea of what I’m getting. Quinn and Brady probably do have good intensions but Brady just scares me more than Quinn.
    Although I’m not crazy for Alexi, Kirks repeated lies are just too much for me to cast a vote for him.
    In all my years of voting, I don’t think I’ve ever felt this level of overall dissatisfaction with the choices in this election.

  13. - A.B. - Friday, Oct 22, 10 @ 9:56 am:

    Can’t disagree with your assessment much. I do think you are underselling Kirk a bit. Mostly because a lot of the “fabrications” are a matter of perspective, but I can respect your thoughts on the matter.

  14. - Mares eat oats - Friday, Oct 22, 10 @ 9:58 am:

    Rich, nice summary there. You caught the mood exactly - as if you’ve been living in my head.

    Take a look at today’s Trib article re: Cook and Dupage County losing out on FEMA disaster-relief funds because the Quinn Administration didn’t file a timely appeal. Way to go, Quinn. Way to go, the young know-it-alls who he surrounds himself with. Thousands and thousands of home and property owners will now have to pay for repairs and remediation out of their own pockets - and I have a hunch that most of them vote. Brady’s ad on this almost writes itself - but I will let Oswego Willy take that task on.

  15. - wordslinger - Friday, Oct 22, 10 @ 10:00 am:

    For me, most trips to the voter’s booth require a leap of faith grounded in some evidence, however slight.

    Even slight evidence is hard to come by in the two big races, and my expectations aren’t all that high. I don’t believe in magic wands, or even beans.

    I wrote off both Kirk and Alexi long ago ,so I’ll do something different there. I’m pretty sure I’ll end up voting for Quinn in hopes he’ll bring in a new, strong management team, unless I decide to go minor party at the last minute.

    Brady’s naivete and/or prevarications regarding the state’s problems, and how he can’t figure out where the money’s going, despite 17 years under The Dome and the mountains of information available to all, crossed him off my list.

  16. - Rich Miller - Friday, Oct 22, 10 @ 10:00 am:

    walter, those are not “faux” concerns. Don’t put words in my mouth.

  17. - VoterUSA - Friday, Oct 22, 10 @ 10:01 am:

    I’m undecided what to post here….

  18. - Amalia - Friday, Oct 22, 10 @ 10:03 am:

    maybe you can look at who works for them and ask yourself if you want these people to have jobs working for the public for the next 4-6 years. as in talking to you for the next term.

  19. - He Makes Ryan Look Like a Saint - Friday, Oct 22, 10 @ 10:04 am:

    It is unfortunate that there is not a “None of the Above” vote. Remember in “Brewsters Millions” Richard Prior funded the “none of the above vote” because both people running were horrible? Welcome to this years election.

    Quinn lost my vote when he refused to fumagate the Blago people. He cannot get the job done.
    Brady scares the heck out of me because you cannot fix the budget problems off the backs of State Employees. There is not much left to cut. a 10% cut would be devastating to the people of Illinois.

    I saw what happened when all the bigshots from north of I 80 came downstate to fix things 8 years ago. It was a disaster. As it turned out us farmers down here do know a thing or two. I am going to hold my nose and vote for Brady to try to get some Downstate back in Illinois.

    I cannot vote for Alexi, I feel he is to intrenched with some shady characters. While Kirk lied about his military record, it beats hanging out with the Outfit.

  20. - lakeview - Friday, Oct 22, 10 @ 10:05 am:

    It is a sad bunch. Maybe the recall amendment will pass, we can vote the winning governor out of office, and then elect Kirk Dillard.

  21. - corvax - Friday, Oct 22, 10 @ 10:06 am:

    An important consideration in the Senate race is whether one generally supports the President’s agenda or Mitch McConnell’s. It’s easy to underestimate Alexi; he did a lot of good things in the Treasurer’s office and will bring that same energy to a legislative agenda. Look at his well-articulated positions on his website; don’t confuse less experience responding to talking heads with a lack of understanding of the issues. Sure he’s youing, but I think he’s obviously the better choice.

    I’ll vote for Quinn, but that one, given recent bumbling, is harder. Brady could be worse with his apparent expectation he can balance the budget by cutting costs on top of ridiculous social positions.

  22. - Gathersno - Friday, Oct 22, 10 @ 10:11 am:

    It’s sure a shame when you go into the voting booth thinking, “Yeah, but the other guy is even worse!”

  23. - Joe from Joliet - Friday, Oct 22, 10 @ 10:13 am:

    ===Brady…too locked into the cutting taxes and cutting spending line mentality===

    Damn him! I want my taxes raised and have as much of it as humanly possible completely thrown away!!!

    Obviously, we won’t be naming government buildings after any of these guys in the future. But, in Illinois, 7 years and 9+ months of demoralized chaos is enough for me.

  24. - Aldyth - Friday, Oct 22, 10 @ 10:13 am:

    Rich, you have summed up my feelings about this election far more eloquently than I could have. I cannot ever remember being so ambivalent about casting my vote as I have this season.

  25. - SilverBack - Friday, Oct 22, 10 @ 10:20 am:

    Why do they have to make it so hard to vote for them?

  26. - VoterUSA - Friday, Oct 22, 10 @ 10:21 am:

    Just a thought, but if you are that undecided in the Senate race, you can always vote for both…one for 40 days, and one for 6 years.

  27. - Ghost - Friday, Oct 22, 10 @ 10:30 am:

    I am not nearly as informed as ich, but was having as similiar discussion about the canidates with others.

    Word pretty much sums up my current State of mind, but for the first time I may stand in the voting booth pondering each race for a time. Inthe past oting has gone quick for me, just marking my predermined choices… I wonder if their is a time limit for standing in the booth….

  28. - MikeMacD - Friday, Oct 22, 10 @ 10:30 am:

    I can sympathize with the sentiments expressed in Mr. Miller’s article, but I see real policy differences between the nominees in each race. Focusing on character confuses the issue. All four gentlemen, though having personal flaws, don’t come across as fundamentally corrupt regarding personal or political gains like the previous Governor, so that shouldn’t be an issue.

    Senators are not executives, they vote. Each candidate in this year’s election have signaled by their words and past actions that they will vote overwhelmingly along party lines.

    Regarding the Governor’s race, one is trying to minimize the damage to the State’s programs and raise revenues through an income tax increase and the other wants to cut taxes, cut program funding, and “Que sera sera”. Their societal views are pretty much what you would expect from their party affiliation.

    I didn’t find it difficult at all when I voted.

  29. - cassandra - Friday, Oct 22, 10 @ 10:32 am:

    Actually, it probably won’t make much difference who wins the gubernatorial race. Both principal candidates will face the deficit, a struggling economy and middle class and the need to upgrade a shoddy state civil service into the 21st century. The latter includes a teacher corps that seems particularly resistant to calls for improved accountability and performance. Pension problems. Infrastructure decay-roads, bridges, public transit, etc. And a constant search for money. Even Quinn’s plan to soak the middle class with an income tax increase will only take him so far, although he pretends otherwise. And if Brady gets in, well, same problem. He’ll be less indebted to powerful public employee unions but they have their way of bringing politicians into line. He’ll be dealing with a Democratic legislature who will resist his planned cuts. And at the end of the day, politicians can only do so much to create jobs, whatever Brady’s (and Quinn’s) claims. We can’t afford to lower unemployment by adding zillions of civil servants to the state job-for-life payroll. We really can’t. It’s up to the business community, and they are dithering.

    Neither of the leading candidates is a genius–or even particularly creative. So their solutions will likely be pedestrian and unoriginal. Illinois is definitely waiting for superman and
    he ain’t going to win this election.

  30. - John Bambenek - Friday, Oct 22, 10 @ 10:33 am:

    There is, actually a none-ob-the-above vote… you can write that in. At least for US Senate and Governor.

  31. - Mike Ins - Friday, Oct 22, 10 @ 10:35 am:

    Wow… hell must have froze over… I find myself agreeing in large part with Cassandra’s analysis.

    Yes, they are plenty different as to outlook, views, and what-not, but they both are staring into the abyss of the same problem and neither has presented a solution, or the semblance of a solution.

  32. - Jim - Friday, Oct 22, 10 @ 10:35 am:

    Quinn and Kirk, definitely a lesser of two evils.

  33. - ChrisChicago82-Independent - Friday, Oct 22, 10 @ 10:39 am:

    I think you captured the mood quite well.

    I voted early, and al though I stand by my vote for Governor, I know there will be some remorse with it (I chose Brady). I just could not bring myself to vote for somebody who is undeniably going to take us down the same road we’ve seen the last few years. With Brady, there is higher risk (due to the unknown and his naivety towards spending slashes) but the potential for a higher reward.

    As for Kirk and Alexi, your opinion, while I respect it, is a little disappointing. You’re practically admitting that you will be voting with your stomach and not your head. You call Kirk a wonk and a hard worker, and call Alexi unprepared and practically out of his depth. Yet, you ignore what matters most…POLICY… and instead focus on the character of Kirk???

    I would rather hold my nose and vote for a serial embellisher who KNEW WHAT HE WAS DOING then a young kid who I know, as do you, is unprepared for this job.

  34. - Radar Love - Friday, Oct 22, 10 @ 10:41 am:

    HA ha!

  35. - Oswego Willy - Friday, Oct 22, 10 @ 10:50 am:


    I always enjoy your work, but I have to say this piece is, for me, is one of the top pieces and in a top tier all by itself.

    This column is like sitting at a bar, or around a table having a soda and just looking around, taking that 5 minutes to digest what the heck is going on out there and being so honest it scares those you sit with because, in reality, they feel the same.

    I, as a collar-county Repub, live in the former repub speaker of the US House district, which is now being held by a democrat, and I dunno what the heck I am thinking about when I touch the touch-screen here in Oswego.

    I have Kirk, who has p#$%ed off every vet I talk to about faking his military record, and I have Alexi, who is literally self-destructing with every press pop he does. I have to go Kirk, but Commander McBragg never earned my vote, I just feel my party put up the “lesser of …”

    Quinn v. Brady. Wow, Didn’t see this matchup the day before the primary, but here we are. But, my party’s nominee has zero clue about how to handle the budget, making this 10% pledge, then stepping back, then going even harder on it … but then not really that hard without a forensic audit… what!?!? Do not get me started on puppies and social issue the day AFTER winning the primary …What?!?!?

    Quinn, has a heart, and we say all the time, his heart is in the right place but he is not up for this … If he were the CEO of a company, Quinn would have been bounced up to the Chairman spot and told to not show up anymore, for the good of the company …

    So, this should be like Kirk, Brady by defaul…

    Enter Jason Plummer.

    Pat Quinn is the poster child of why the LG is important. Plummer is a heartbeat away. Plummer has done ZERO to make anyone feel better about him. He has put in $300K alone last year of HIS money, yet we know nothing about how or where he got that money, or … if he doens’t take a salary, who will be paying him and is that going to be a conflict? No ethics Jason.

    Jason Plummer will not be a deciding factor, because Brady had no choice, like Quinn had no choice with SLC … but I take pause with Plummer, and hope if Brady does win, as it appears, MJM and Cullerton get rid of the LG and Plummer next cycle goes the way of Corrinne Wood, who was the poster child for Conservatives of the “rich-naive-unqualified LG disaster” … remember that Conservatives????

    I have Foster-Hultgren and I am all in with Hultgren because of the votes that are around Foster’s neck. You can’t be independed and vote over 90% with the “current” speaker.

    So, why do I like this column so much … look at how much rationalizing I had to do to still be undecided. How much fun is it to virtually talk to Rich … about the same goofy election “undecided-ness” I feel.

    Great column, and Thanks Rich

  36. - dupage dan - Friday, Oct 22, 10 @ 10:54 am:

    In an earlier life I refused to vote because there was no “none of the above” choice. Or I wrote someone in. Or I voted for the fringe candidate. All to protest the ESTABLISHMENT.

    The main line candidates love that. Throw your vote away, go ahead. So many candidates try to depress the turnout (!) as a means to victory.

    Actually, this is a pretty easy election season for me. As flawed as I am, I have no right to cast aspersions, altho I do. The state has been run by the democrats for many years now. It’s time for the other side to have their go at it.

    See, now that was easy.

  37. - car - Friday, Oct 22, 10 @ 10:56 am:

    It is curious that the majority of people that I know that generally vote Democrat are the ones that are the most undecided and have most often stated their disdain and apathy to the point of wanting to completely abstain from voting this election. I have not heard the same from the GOP side.

  38. - Wumpus - Friday, Oct 22, 10 @ 10:56 am:

    Moving to the U.S. Senate race, we have Mark Kirk the policy wonk without a moral center vs. Alexi Giannoulias the policy lite juvenile without a moral center.

    Vote for SLC and Rich Whitey. You should have headed up my campaign Rich, there would be no indecisiveness.

  39. - Springfield Sceptic - Friday, Oct 22, 10 @ 11:01 am:

    Is it just me or is anybody else tired of going into the voting booth and having to pick the lesser of two evils instead of someone you really WANT to vote for??

  40. - Champaign Dweller - Friday, Oct 22, 10 @ 11:03 am:

    I think I’m decided, but this has been tough. With Quinn I know what I’m getting–another tax and spend politician. Maybe Brady will be better–he probably won’t be worse. If you think Kirk fabricated his military service, what about Alexi’s lie about leaving the bank before it went south, and then having to fess up that he left later in order to get a tax break? Neither one is great, but I guess Kirk is the lesser of the two evils which just sums up Illinois politics this year.

  41. - Jaded - Friday, Oct 22, 10 @ 11:07 am:

    The election for Governor is a no brainer for me. One party rule doesn’t work anywhere. It doesn’t work in Springfield and doesn’t work in DC. It doesn’t work for Republicans, and it doesn’t work for Democrats.

    Worst eight years (or at least 7) in the recent history of the state of Illinois. One party rule. Coincidence. I think not. George W. and the Republican Congress, the 2006 and 2008 elections pretty much sum up what the country thought about them, and this national election will probably show us what the country thinks about the all Dem leadership currently in DC.

    We need cooperation and buy in from both sides to get out of this mess, especially since every legislator is going to be scared to death to vote for anything after this election. They may not like each other, and many of you may not like what the other side stands for, but at the end of the day they are forced to come together and make decisions.

    Did I vote for Bill Brady in the Primary? Nope. Do I think Bill Brady has all the answers? Nope. Do I think he is a good person and will do his best to solve our problems even if I don’t agree 100% with his plan (or as some of you say lack there of) to do so. Yep, and it will be in his best interest to try and fix the problems we face or he will be gone in four years.

    By the way, the Governor can do very little without legislative approval and even if lightening strikes and Cross wins the majority, the State Senate will still have a Democratic majority. Brady will have to force everyone to the table. Not just the Republicans and not just the Democrats, but EVERYONE. If he doesn’t, he’ll fail, many of you will say I told you so and we’ll have a different Governor in 2015.

    Quinn is just more of the same.

    As I said, no brainer.

    As for Kirk and Gianoulias, probably go for Kirk (as much as I really don’t want to) because Durbin is in there as long as he wants to be, and again, I think it is always better for us to have a senator from each party in the U.S. Senate.

  42. - Birdseed - Friday, Oct 22, 10 @ 11:08 am:

    Great article, Rich. You have described the sentiment of a large part of the voting population. I will have to go with Dupage Dan’s reasoning that it is “the other side’s turn”. Not sure they can do any worse.

  43. - Oswego Willy - Friday, Oct 22, 10 @ 11:15 am:

    I wanted to throw this out … because I was literally in a bar and the comparison of today and 1994 landslide …and those two statewide tickets came up … the discussion was a GOP leaning discussion and we wondered out loud about the “sweep” and the stop gap of Lisa and Jesse … so the dems were smart … but look at that 1994 lineup the GOP had …

    Jim Ryan

    Geez … at that time (just the political, not ethics, and looking at it with just 1994 eyes!)
    What a lineup! That was the GOP that could take on this state …

    Times have changed, IL is “blue-er” than back then and Alan Keyes and numerous blunders didn’t prevent it turning blue-er. GOP errors squandered 1994, but I digress …

    My point? We have…
    Kirk (meh)
    Brady (suprise!)
    Plummer (Daddy said I won!)
    Kim ($7k and a smile)
    Enriquez (Who am I again?)
    JBT (I am on the ballot with THIS ticket) Rutherford (Please be a strong GOP year, I am the best candidate!)

    The landslide may be the same but Kim-Enriquez ain’t the 1994 Ryans … Heaven help Judy and Dan, there is a stop-gap for the dems.

  44. - ChrisChicago82-Independent - Friday, Oct 22, 10 @ 11:17 am:


    “Enter Jason Plummer.”

    This is why I have a little buyers remorse over voting for Brady last week. I went with the lesser of the two evils in Brady (al though, as I noted, his naivete on spending cuts has the potential to be a danger), but right as I cast my vote for Brady I saw Plummers name and had to deeply cringe.

    The man is atrocious!

  45. - Louis G. Atsaves - Friday, Oct 22, 10 @ 11:17 am:

    I have a lot of contacts with other politically astute individuals throughout the country through a private scholarship foundation I belong to. These are individuals, both Democrats and Republicans, who are highly active in their states in the political process, including a few elected officials.

    That being said, those living in other states are amazed at the high degree of toleration we in Illinois have for the ruling party that has sunk us and mismanaged us into the current economic state we are in. They are amazed at the high degree of toleration we have for corruption. Those in the convention business tell horror stories about McCormick Place and laugh at the “reforms” as being token in nature. While we delude ourselves over the latest convention reforms, they are by-passing Illinois.

    When they are in Chicago, they tell stories about how lousy our traffic is, our terrible our roads are, how our taxi cab services are subpar, how our public transportation is subpar, our high hotel and sales taxes. They like us as individuals, and call us friendly. And they always talk about how great our State used to be.

    They talk about increasingly using O’Hare to transfer to other locations, instead of flying in and staying in Chicago.

    Why am I bringing this up?

    Because Rich, I believe that your article of “I just can’t decide” would just floor these people. I’m taking the liberty to send it around from the Sun-Times link today to gauge their reaction.

    Their reaction has been “throw the bums out.” If the next group proves to be just as bad, then throw them out too. And keep throwing them out until you get good people in office. The “he’s had his chance” let’s look elsewhere mentality. When I talk about the money the legislative leadership controls and raises for campaigns, they roll their eyes in disbelief.

    As several of them have pointed out, we don’t have that “throw the bums out” mentality in this state. So we tolerate the inept who cannot govern, we tolerate those with ethical lapses, we laugh at the coincidences of endorsements for contracts, of big donations for votes or vetoes, of two chambers of legislative mushrooms, of rampant gerrymandering of districts. The list is endless.

    It’s our high degree of toleration of all this that leads to “I just can’t make up my mind” when this State is in crisis, the State’s major county has been mismanaged, and the State’s major city is losing a long term governor who is leaving just as the financial roof is caving in.

    Would we hire a doctor that consistently misdiagnoses a problem and offers no solutions? A lawyer? An accountant? A dentist? (That tooth in the back hurts like hell doc. Don’t worry, we’ll get to that some day in the future!) If the White Sox have a closer who blows 50 saves, would you refuse to replace him fearing the next guy would be worse? Would you even let him blow 50 saves before fretting about it? If the newspaper delivery man consistently fails to deliver your newspaper on time, in the right driveway and in one piece, would you be “just unable to make up your mind” about discontinuing that service?

    I’m not condemning you for being unsure. My situation is different. For me the decision is easy, I’m represented by all Democrats with the lone exception of one Lake County Board race. Federal, State and local. The only government not broke and still functioning normally is the Lake County Board and Lake County Government. And I’m a Republican.

    From my perspective, it’s time to throw all the bums out and put some fresh faces in there. My out of state friends have convinced me that is the proper course of action. To reelect the same gang that couldn’t shoot straight in their eyes is insanity.

    And if those fresh faces stumble, vote them out the next election.

  46. - T.J. - Friday, Oct 22, 10 @ 11:22 am:

    I’m voting Democrat as usual, but I just can’t bring myself to admit it until Election Day. There’s such an air of nobility to appearing undecided.

  47. - Angry Chicagoan - Friday, Oct 22, 10 @ 11:25 am:

    The way I see the voting choice is this. Nationally, the Republican Party simply is not fit to govern the country. Their proposals amount to little more than a collection of corporate pork that will increase the deficit. The Tea Party rants but provides no constructive solution. They’re not so much the party of “no” as the party of “can’t do.”

    So in this context the Senate choice is easy — Giannoulias.

    The choice for governor is much more difficult. The state Democratic Party is in as abjectly bad condition as the national Republicans, the Democratic candidate for governor is the only one who has proposed any constructive deficit reduction at all but unfortunately can’t get it done because he’s incompetent, and the Republican candidate for governor isn’t even that good.

    Flip a coin maybe? Quinn on the grounds of “you break it, you own it”? Brady in hopes that he’ll change from a grandstanding legislator once placed in executive office? It’s really, really grim. And that doesn’t even begin to consider the legislature. The thought of more Madigan in combination with Quinn is enough to turn the stomach.

  48. - Jo - Friday, Oct 22, 10 @ 11:27 am:

    I have to say… those who think all the state’s problems are due simply to “mismanagement” … just baffle me. Baffle me.

  49. - wordslinger - Friday, Oct 22, 10 @ 11:27 am:

    ==Vote for SLC and Rich Whitey. You should have headed up my campaign Rich, there would be no indecisiveness.–

    I’m familiar with illegal “vote early, vote often,” but this is the first I’ve seen a recommendation to illegally vote twice for different candidates in the same race. I salute you for your innovation.

  50. - Right the Ship - Friday, Oct 22, 10 @ 11:29 am:

    Brady for Governor

    None-of-the-above for Senate

  51. - Worth It - Friday, Oct 22, 10 @ 11:29 am:

    A vote for Brady is a vote for a negotiated map and more competitive races for the next ten years. Competition = accountability, something that has been sorely lacking in Illinois.

  52. - Phineas J. Whoopee - Friday, Oct 22, 10 @ 11:31 am:

    Hey Louis G. Atsaves, I bet most of your asute politicals never met Bill Brady. If they did, they might understand us backward Illinoians.

  53. - Angry Chicagoan - Friday, Oct 22, 10 @ 11:32 am:

    I’m also concerned, reading through this thread, by how much people seem to be voting on the individual rather than the group. In particular, I’d like to know from those who are not strongly partisanly Republican or Democrat how they can rationalize putting the Republican Party in control of the Senate or the Illinois Democrats in full control of Springfield? I get the sense that people simply are not sufficiently looking at the policies that have been enacted or are on offer. But as Rich says, a large part of that is our MSM which wants to reduce all politics to sports reporting.

  54. - Skeeter - Friday, Oct 22, 10 @ 11:35 am:

    Can somebody explain to me why the “mob banker” thing is such a big deal? Do people expect Alexi is going to be like Roti’s First Ward? Alexi is young, there are questions about his role with regard to his family bank failing, and there are some questions about how he performed in his current job. I accept those as real issues.

    The “mob banker” thing though? If you vote on that issue, then you get the government you deserve.

  55. - Anonymous - Friday, Oct 22, 10 @ 11:39 am:

    Still can’t decide about gov. This is a hard decision but I keep my children in my mind when I vote and I refuse to go through what we went through during the bush years…That said for senate it’s Alexi! Gov. leaning Quinn.

  56. - Skeeter - Friday, Oct 22, 10 @ 11:43 am:

    Incidently, on Gov. I agree with everything Miller wrote. There is no good candidate. There is not even a “hold the nose and vote for this guy” candidate. Neither has a clue. The best we can hope for:

    1. If Quinn: That he grows a spine and starts playing the role of the leader;

    2. If Brady: That all his budget talk was like Thompson’s budget talk — stuff said during a campaign but providing no clue as to how he will govern.

    My own actual preference right now is that Brady wins and actually tries to govern on how he campaigned. Once people see how 30% cuts actually impact them (the minimum of what will be required to do the tax decrease and balance the budget thing) there will be no more talk in the electorate of “no tax increases ever.” That sort of talk has been poisoning elections for too long. Time for voters to grow up. But they won’t do it until they see what the budget cuts really look like.

  57. - Louis Howe - Friday, Oct 22, 10 @ 11:47 am:

    I never thought that I would ever vote for a conservative Republican governor over a progressive Democrat, but Quinn has proven beyond a reasonable doubt that he is incompetent. The minimum any partisan should demand from a candidate of their own party is that they are able to execute the executive powers entrusted to them with a reasonable level of competence. Quinn has not, and furthermore, after 19 months, cannot manage state government. A Governor Brady will more than likely have to deal with a democratic majority in at least one branch of the legislature, and therefore we’ll have a check on the purse strings and budget cuts. I’ve seen enough. It’s time to give someone else an opportunity.

  58. - Levois - Friday, Oct 22, 10 @ 11:51 am:

    “Just a thought, but if you are that undecided in the Senate race, you can always vote for both…one for 40 days, and one for 6 years.”

    What a fascinating idea! :)

  59. - lesser of the evils - Friday, Oct 22, 10 @ 11:51 am:

    You are exactly on par with my same thoughts toward this election, Rich.

    For me, the reality that we’ve seen is that the lt gov could actually take the lead role. So, that being said, that’s how I’m basing my decision in this race.

    In my opinion, there’s a significant line between Simon and Plummer. Simon seems to be a hard working, realistic, even headed candidate, who’s opinions are so extreme that I’d steer away from her. Granted, she couldn’t win her local mayoral election, but her background still puts her far ahead of Plummer.

    Plummer is a kid with NO real world experience. His resume is essentially entirely fabricated. The media has only very slightly picked up on this. He touted military experience which coincidentally wasn’t applied for until he filed for election. His name was not on the paperwork for businesses he claimed to own. His role in every experience he boasts is highly exaggerated. He won’t share his income tax info. With the recent speculation of where GOP money is coming from, I’d wager that Bob Plummer has sunk more money into getting his son elected than we will ever know about. I’ve heard numerous stories about his persistence with females, even to the point of restraining orders, which goes to his character that no one seems to know much about. Beyond that, the guy isn’t competent to partake in an interview, to the point where he’s now skipped 3 appearances? At this point, anyone who can read should be able to at least memorize a script of what to say about the budget and jobs.

    As far as Alexi and Kirk go…close call, and I have hardly been able to decipher through the insults who has actually committed acts that would sway me one way or another. I’m just ready for the mud slinging to be over in that one, and likely, Alexi will get my vote.

  60. - 10th Indy - Friday, Oct 22, 10 @ 11:53 am:

    “Candidates are supposed to grow during a campaign. These guys have shrunk.” Rich Miller

    ” An election is a moral horror, as bad as a battle except for the blood; a mud bath for every soul concerned in it.” - GB Shaw

    There is something about the election process that stains. Would Kirk have embellished if he were not locked in a brutal 2-year election cycle for the past 10 years? Would Alexi have accused a 21-year veteran of treason if he was not fighting in one of the ugliest campaigns in recent memory?

    Perhaps there is an opportunity for growth in all that ugliness. I have been a Kirk supporter since he first ran for congress and was deeply disappointed by his embellishments. His initial reaction was not pretty, but over the summer he appears to have learned an important and painful lesson. He is a humbler public servant than he was last May and I think perhaps a better man for having to address his worst character flaw. He owns his mistake, refusing to blame anyone else, offering apoligies not excuses. That’s growth. Might not be enough to sway you Rich, but it’s more than enough to keep me in his column.

  61. - Susie - Friday, Oct 22, 10 @ 11:56 am:

    excellent article, Rich. While I have finally made up my mind, it has not been easy and I don’t like the choices we have, at all. it would be nice to go back to the primary and see if now we would end up with a Hynes v. Dillard race.

    I have always considered myself a moderate Republican, but I guess that doesn’t exist any more. The GOP is losing its mind, in my opinion, Sarah Palin, Glen Beck, that O’Donnell woman, oh my goodness, they do not speak for me.

    but, I can’t think of myself as a Democrat; I really do think less government is better. There are good government programs that need to exist and help those who truly cannot help themselves.

    I’m starting to ramble, so I am probably going to hold my nose and vote for Brady, but I sure wish Kirk Dillard had won the primary–would have been a no brainer Nov. 2. I was totally turned off by Alexi during his appearance with Kirk on Meet the Press a couple of weeks ago, and Kirk has the policy experience needed to be a U.S. Senator. Not sure what personality quirk causes him to embellish his military record, but he will get my vote.

    I told a friend this week, this is the worst set of candidates I have ever seen, with the exceptions of Dan Rutherford and Lisa Madigan.

  62. - 47th Ward - Friday, Oct 22, 10 @ 12:07 pm:

    Great column Rich.

    I’m not undecided, but I am terribly disappointed in the choices. I’m voting against Kirk and for Quinn. It’s really hard to be for Giannoulias, and having worked with Kirk over the years, really easy to vote against him. That’s my process of elimination. Another big factor is that I’m still an Obama supporter, so the idea of sending Mitch McConnell another No Vote turns my stomach.

    Brady might be good for Illinois in a perverse way, and I am expecting him to win (God help us). But as pretty much everyone here knows, Illinois is messed up. I don’t know why anybody would spend millions for the right to preside over this sinking ship of state. If Brady does win, I kind of look forward to watching him flounder along. I just wish that his floundering doesn’t cause our problems to get worse.

    This election is like our state budget: bad choices and worse choices. There aren’t many good choices this year, except for those of us in Cook County — Forrest Claypool is a good choice.

  63. - hisgirlfriday - Friday, Oct 22, 10 @ 12:14 pm:

    both my primary picks (hoffman and hynes) lost yet at this point this isnt a hard choice for me.

    i voted for jbt in 2006 and would have voted for dillard happily this year but brady turns me off. its not just the conservative thing. i wish i could support a downstate governor. but too many people who know him/know people who know him in b/n have bad things to say abt him and jason plummer is so unimpressive and secretive its unsettling. i mean its not the age thing because this would bug at any age.

    as for the senate race unless blago was on the ticket i have to vote for the dem if only to vote against empowering the sharron angle joe miller christine odonnell linda mcmahon nutjob caucus

  64. - corvax - Friday, Oct 22, 10 @ 12:16 pm:

    “nutjob caucus” funny, can i steal it?

  65. - lesser of the evils - Friday, Oct 22, 10 @ 12:24 pm:

    Correction-meant to say that Simon’s opinions are NOT so extreme that I’d steer away from her.

  66. - Pat Robertson - Friday, Oct 22, 10 @ 12:24 pm:

    ==they’ve screwed up their coverage of two elections at the same time. That has to be some kind of record.==

    Could we count the election for the remainder of the president’s Senate term as a third election, making it truly a record? And would Ford Frick make us put an asterisk on it?

  67. - Budget Watcher - Friday, Oct 22, 10 @ 12:36 pm:

    To borrow Denny Green’s infamous words, “they are who we thought they were.” I knew the day after the primary that if I intend to vote in the general election, I’d have serious regrets no matter who I chose. My initial assessment has been firmly re-enforced since.

  68. - T.J. - Friday, Oct 22, 10 @ 12:41 pm:

    I can’t be the only one here who’s for Brady but would vote Quinn over Dillard.

  69. - Independent - Friday, Oct 22, 10 @ 12:45 pm:

    Senate - Kirk. I want a candidate who can show some independence of party leadership and has the ability to develop into a statesman. Kirk with all his flaws is miles ahead of Alexi in both.

    Governor - Whitney. I cannot decide between the ineffectual Quinn and Brady who lives in a fantasy land. If this is what the two parties serve up than they won’t get my vote. Though I have many quibbles with Whitney at least he speaks candidly and honestly.

    AG - Kim. I’m hoping enough people do the same so the Madigan landslide is lessened. She needs to lift a finger on public corruption.

    SoS - White. The only prominent IL Democrat to take a consistent, principled stand in the Burris fiasco.

    Comptroller/Treasurer - Topinka/Rutherford. Illinois needs party/geographical balance.

  70. - Gregor - Friday, Oct 22, 10 @ 12:57 pm:

    The Quinn-Brady see-saw rests on the fulcrum of Mike Madigan.

    Madigan really did not give Quinn any support when he took over for Blago. Everything important has been put off until after this election, so Mike can tend the Bonsai tree that is his majority.

    After the election, will Madigan actually put the power he has to a more broadly helpful use and help fix the budget? I have to believe that is slightly more likely with a Dem governor at the helm. Will Quinn, if he wins, make the appropriate moves to motivate Mike to get off his butt and start working on taxes and spending reforms?

    If Madigan is not going to step up and commit on the budget, Immediately post-election, nothing the senate or next Executive will do is really going to matter. Brady being governor won’t matter, much, if Madigan won’t play along.

    Ask yourself what Madigan thinks is in his best interest… to keep running out the clock so eventually he can hand Lisa the rubble of a state to repair and rebuild? Or is this the year they do what they should have done right after the Blago impeachment: run the table, use a majority to make the painful calls with enough time to prove they were right decisions and get the credit, before the next pandering, er, election cycle makes everyone a lame duck, yet again.

    The legislature is stalled because the “engine” is missing. Mike, put it back in, please!

    I think that’s a new record for mixed metaphors for me. Yay.

  71. - hisgirlfriday - Friday, Oct 22, 10 @ 12:57 pm:

    indy - what issues are you expecting kirk to buck mcconnell on when he renounced his climate change vote the second conservatives challenged him on it? or are you expecting a senate gop leader demint (in which case i guess i could see a kirk brown collins snowe group vote with dems on a few things).

  72. - Independent - Friday, Oct 22, 10 @ 1:13 pm:

    The Senate tends to be a more moderate body than the House so I could see Kirk joining the coalition you mentioned on certain votes. If Alexi emerges he will be so wounded he will hide in the Senate, marching in locked step with Reid (if he survives) and Durbin. Alexi’s grasp of policy is so weak I do not see him willing or able to forge his own path.

  73. - Ghost - Friday, Oct 22, 10 @ 1:32 pm:

    Louis G. Atsaves, your comment represents an overlysimplisti methodology. As a counter to throw the bumbs out I would state: 1 just because its bad doesnt mean you cant make it worse; 2 out of the frying pan and into the fire. or if you prefer, look before you leap.

    Disatisfaction with the a current elected official does not equate to the opposition being better, or putting the opposition person into play as being better and waiting for the next election cycle to fix.

    better to try and make a good decision now then fix a worse mess later by voting in a bad canidate to repalce a mediocore incumbent.

  74. - soccermom - Friday, Oct 22, 10 @ 1:36 pm:

    He Makes Ryan –

    Oh, for heaven’s sake. I was brought up downstate, got married and moved to Chicago, and worked in state government based in the Thompson Center. Which means I’m one of those “Chicago” people you dismiss.

    And I will say to you what I say to my husband when he starts getting all urban elite and “country mouse vs. city mouse”: There is no relationship between IQ and zip code. There are smart, honest, creative, thoughtful and public-spirited people in every county of Illinois.

    Could we please please please end this I-80 divide? We’re one state. It’s time we started acting like it.

  75. - Anonymous - Friday, Oct 22, 10 @ 1:47 pm:

    “crossed our fingers and hoped for the best” I think we all did that when Quinn came to office. Time to move on and try sombody else. If it doesn’t work out, there will always be sombody else.

  76. - downstate hack - Friday, Oct 22, 10 @ 1:47 pm:

    Brady for Governor, because Quinn had a golden opportunity and proved he is not capable. Kirk, hold my nose and hope his ego has been sufficiently deflated by the campaign to be a reasonably effective Senator for Illinois.

  77. - frustrated GOP - Friday, Oct 22, 10 @ 2:18 pm:

    Rich, sent your article to several people who all said you were speaking for them. I think I have decided that as bad as Quinn is as gov. I simply can’t vote for Brady. He is too far gone in his own make believe world. He had a chance to close the deal and didn’t. He also had a chance to replace his LG and didn’t. the Dems gave him that pass. On the Senate race. I just don’t know. it amazes me how the IL GOP continues to give Democrats a chance to win. Had Kirk said nothing he had this race. I guess I go with Kirk, it’s only the US Senate. He’s ego will fit right in. I like the idea of splitting the vote on that race just to screw with the both of them.
    Still thinking about moving out of state.
    I personally would like to vote on Speaker of the Illinois house so we can all vote against Napoleon, I mean Madigan.

  78. - Cincinnatus - Friday, Oct 22, 10 @ 2:50 pm:

    Can anyone look me in the eye and REALLY claim they don’t know how they are going to vote? Nothing will change between now and November 2nd. I’m sure glad the people who can’t make up their minds aren’t running for office…

  79. - wordslinger - Friday, Oct 22, 10 @ 3:16 pm:

    Cincy, forgive those who give it a think. Some people don’t see the world in absolutes all the time.

    And no, no one really can look you in the eye (just one?, sorry) on the Internet.

  80. - Cincinnatus - Friday, Oct 22, 10 @ 3:19 pm:


    Following for months the comments on numerous other threads on Rich’s blog, it’s hard to believe that those in this thread claiming they cannot make up their minds. Just sayin’…


  81. - Ghost - Friday, Oct 22, 10 @ 3:29 pm:

    I hope on Nov 2 we can get min by min coverage of what Rham is doing on all the major networks.

  82. - southern illinoisan - Friday, Oct 22, 10 @ 3:47 pm:

    Amen Rich! I totally agree, to a point. But as I posted the other night it comes down to a process of elimination and voting for the person who is maybe not the best, but certainly not the worst.

    If you use that rationale then the unknown quantity of Brady wins. Like you said cross your fingers and hope he figures it out. At least he is not Quinn.

    Quinn supporters are using the same rationale. Thet know they have a flawed candidate but at least he is a Dem and doesn’t gas puppies. That is a real good argument. Hold your nose and pick one. The winner is a 1 termer anyway…..

  83. - Skeeter - Friday, Oct 22, 10 @ 3:51 pm:

    Actually, I think the rational is “Cutting 10% gets only about $3 billion, the hole is $13 billion, and despite the fact that he’s been in Springfield for 20 years, he apparently doesn’t have any clue as to what to do on the budget.”

    Just sayin that there is much more than puppies.

  84. - lawyerlady - Friday, Oct 22, 10 @ 4:00 pm:

    Brady for Governor, because I think, despite the Quinn smears, that he’s a really honest guy, and I think he is humble enough to learn from others and take the advice and counsel of wise people. He was a very different candidate when he first won the primary - fairly unprepared and more partisan. I think he’s taken some good advice, and has moved in the right direction. I don’t know if he’ll end up sticking to his 10% rule, or even whether he’ll stick to not raising taxes, but I do believe he’ll make serious efforts to get us a balanced budget and pull us out of economic disaster. Quinn is a nightmare (not personally, but politically), and for someone who has actually BEEN GOVERNOR FOR 2 YEARS, he is unbelievably clueless when it comes to running our state.

    Senate, ugh, I’ll vote for liar-liar-pants-on-fire Kirk, but only because I’m admittedly partisan and think Alexi is unprepared for that role. But I won’t like it! Honestly, I don’t personally love Kirk, but am betting he’ll be a competent and moderate Senator.

  85. - Anonymous - Friday, Oct 22, 10 @ 4:14 pm:

    Does anybody know if Quinn has made up his mind on who he will vote for Governor?

  86. - Wensicia - Friday, Oct 22, 10 @ 4:30 pm:

    Excellent column and right on point with this election! I share the exact frame of mind. I don’t know who I can vote for, but I surely can say I wouldn’t mark a ballot for any of the four mentioned above.

  87. - sal-says - Friday, Oct 22, 10 @ 4:36 pm:

    You have it ABSOLUTELY pegged, Rich.

    The problem isn’t that we have choices; it’s the poor [read-crappy] choices we have.

    AND we’ll be stuck with them for 4 more years. Great.

    The 10/18 Shoe comic is still right on target which you can see here:

  88. - Amalia - Friday, Oct 22, 10 @ 4:39 pm:

    ah, the map! do we think that Madigan will actually help Quinn win in the hopes that it’s all Dem once again?

  89. - Just The Way It Is One - Friday, Oct 22, 10 @ 6:53 pm:

    Commendable column, Rich. The whole truth is that when you take Democracy and your right to vote seriously (and to heart) as you admirably and obviously do, like the old Ringo Starr song goes “It don’t come easy.” Trust your gut and good luck. Then celebrate–as a citizen, you’ve then done your duty, and as a reporter, you can the start seeing where and wondering why the proverbial “Fat Lady” is singin’ where she is!!! (And help all of us in the fog figure it out too)!

  90. - Realist - Friday, Oct 22, 10 @ 10:05 pm:

    Maybe it’s the time I spent in the military, but I simply cannot relate to all this anguish and handwringing. It blows my mind.

    Not that I don’t think that 90% of policiticans are sociopaths–it takes a very insecure person to run for office and spend millions of dollars on advertising to show that they really, really are nice. Maybe their mother will finally think they turned out to be a good kid. I’m not that insecure.

    The real elephant in the living room that no one wants to talk about is that we are witnessing the potential of morons inheriting tremendous government power. My question: if the duties of governor were limited to ribbon cutting, giving speeches on state holidays, proclaiming the state marmalade flavor, and posing for pictures at the state capitol, would anyone fret about an imbecile becoming governor? Would there be any tossing and turning and lost sleep? I didn’t think so.

    So mark it down. This situation will repeat itself as long as we have ceded enormous powers to the state government. It to happen again. Unless there is constitutional reform.

    That said, I still don’t understand the hand wringing. Face it–Quinn/Madigan and Blagojevich have been at the helm for 8 years. They have created a mess. They have the documented track record of failure.

    On the other hand, Brady doesn’t seem to add up. At least, not to some’s understanding. But he also doesn’t have responsibility for the mess of Illinois government.

    What was Einstein’s definition of insanity? “Doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result.” The way I figure, if you vote for Quinn/Madigan/Blagojevich and expect different results, you are insane.

    The choice is easy, for me at least. I’ll roll the dice on Bill Brady rather than go with the proven losers of Quinn/Madigan/Blagojevich. What’s the worst Brady could do? Another $13 billion deficit?

    Same with Alexi. What’s the worst Kirk could do? Lose $73 million is college savings? Cost the FDIC $300 million plus on a bank failure while he makes millions of dollars each year before the bank goes broke? If I vote for Alexi, do I really think he’ll stop losing hundreds of millions of dollars? Per Einstein’s rule, not really.

    Therefore it’s Kirk by default. Vasciliation over.

  91. - waitress practicing politics... - Saturday, Oct 23, 10 @ 10:21 am:

    Again, you pegged it. I am undecided, too. I tend to revert to the “devil you know is better than the one you do not know” in the Quinn vs Brady race. But does that fit the stay home uniformed person analysis?

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