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Question of the day

Wednesday, Jun 29, 2011 - Posted by Rich Miller

* With all the negativity sparked by the Blagojevich verdict, I thought we’d try to balance that out with a little positivity. So…

* The Question: In your opinion, who was the best Illinois governor of the modern era? I define “modern era” as the period since the new state Constitution was drafted. Take the poll and then fully explain your answer in comments, please.


  1. - MrJM - Wednesday, Jun 29, 11 @ 12:00 pm:

    I don’t recall feeling personal embarrassment with regard to Jim Edgar’s time in office.

    – MrJM

  2. - Chicago Cynic - Wednesday, Jun 29, 11 @ 12:00 pm:

    wow, what a low bar. I guess I have to say Thompson, though if today’s standards were applied on ethics, I suspect he would have had similar problems to some of our other governors.

  3. - Captain Angrypants - Wednesday, Jun 29, 11 @ 12:03 pm:

    I’m probably a lone voice in the wilderness here, but Quinn. Civil unions, abolishment of the death penalty and a responsible tax increase: all three of these things have won him my lasting gratitude.

  4. - Kerfuffle - Wednesday, Jun 29, 11 @ 12:04 pm:

    I question how many people on this blog even remember Dick Ogilvie’s time as governor.

  5. - Rich Miller - Wednesday, Jun 29, 11 @ 12:05 pm:

    Kerfuffle, it’s not necessary to “remember” his time in office, it’s necessary to know history.

  6. - been there - Wednesday, Jun 29, 11 @ 12:06 pm:

    Ogilvie was fair, honest and courageous.

    He did his best to get the Equal Rights Amendment ratified in Illinois, unlike any of his successors. Then he supported and got enacted the state income tax, which we urgently needed but which lost him re-election.

  7. - Aldyth - Wednesday, Jun 29, 11 @ 12:09 pm:

    During the Edgar years, I had a flyer on my bulletin board of him portrayed as Edgar Scissorhands. It was during his time that human services started to experience the kinds of cuts that set us on the path to becoming #50 in the United States, where we proudly sit in the muck at the bottom of the pile today.

    In spite of that, he was the best governor of the lot. Really says something about Illinois, doesn’t it? The question really should have been “Who was the least awful of modern governors?”

  8. - Louis Howe - Wednesday, Jun 29, 11 @ 12:11 pm:

    Not to quibble too much with the “modern Era” but the best Governor since WWII was Adlai Stevenson. Perhaps the paucity of the options in post-convention period will lead some to select Edgar, but in my opinion, he was the worst of the Thompson/Edgar/Ryan trio. He continued to operate state government, even after Rutan, like a private patronage haven for republicans, and his employee focused fund-raising during his Sec. of State term is the main reason Ryan is cooling his heels in federal cold storage. As a democrat the only viable option left is Dan Walker.

  9. - Louis Howe - Wednesday, Jun 29, 11 @ 12:16 pm:

    MrJM….Remember MSI…Edgar soon thereafter decided not to seek another term.

  10. - walter sobchak - Wednesday, Jun 29, 11 @ 12:18 pm:

    Jim Thompson by far. On his worst day he led Illinois with style and competence. Edgar was a holier than thou caretaker of programs and ideas that Thompson started. Thompson’s aggressive programs in selling Illinois products around the world generated hundreds of millions of dollars in trade and created thousands of jobs. He attracted top flight people to serve in his administration and has led a admirable life since he left. One might quibble with his loyalty to George Ryan, but at least he was consistent in his support.

  11. - Retired Non-Union Guy - Wednesday, Jun 29, 11 @ 12:18 pm:

    Based on working for state government from 1970 to 2003 …

    Richard Oligvie - did what needed to be done in terms of tax reform and didn’t care about the price he knew was going to have to pay.

    I didn’t vote for the others for the following reasons:

    Big Jim - he wasn’t necessarily any cleaner than the others but he did the deals out in the open; his catch phrase to the media was “if you don’t like it, print it!”

    Little Jim - while he had a squeaky clean image, that was just because he was a master at staying one step removed from the corruption and letting others take the fall for him

    George - suspected he was dirty before he was elected gov; knew it once the ticket envelopes started circulating but at least a competent administrator

    Blago - bad news, even my wife knew it and she doesn’t follow politics; I retired rather than work under him

    Walker - my impression is he was OK as gov but I didn’t see a lot of the inner workings of the state during his term

    Quinn - appears good intentioned but seems to be just totally incompetent at governing

  12. - steve schnorf - Wednesday, Jun 29, 11 @ 12:21 pm:

    Yes, louis, we do remember. 2 lower level Public Aid employees convicted, the company and its leaders convicted, the highest level state employee charged, a deputy director if I remember correctly, acquitted, end of story.

  13. - lake county democrat - Wednesday, Jun 29, 11 @ 12:25 pm:

    Ogilvie by miles - as noted above, was willing to risk personal power for principle. Edgar/Thompson = safe as milk combine types. Quinn - hasn’t met a reform principle he won’t turn his back on.

  14. - Retired Non-Union Guy - Wednesday, Jun 29, 11 @ 12:26 pm:

    MrJM & Loius Howe, don’t forget a Director who went to jail over a job selling scheme. If you think that started & stopped at the Director, I’m got a bridge in Brooklyn …

  15. - Way Way Down Here - Wednesday, Jun 29, 11 @ 12:28 pm:

    Edgar. However he did it, he came out with a good reputation. Among members of both parties too.

  16. - Levois - Wednesday, Jun 29, 11 @ 12:28 pm:

    I don’t remember Jim Thompson and I barely remember Edgar. I would give props to Edgar for CPS being put under the Mayor of Chicago in 1995 although that might have been at work way before then though I don’t know the history of that. Ryan despite the fact that he’s a convicted felon would get good marks because he wasn’t a bad governor. He had a plan for infrastructure during his term of office unlike a certain governor today who’s had to go back to the drawing board on construction/infrastructure projects.

  17. - D.P. Gumby - Wednesday, Jun 29, 11 @ 12:34 pm:

    While most had moments, I’d have to vote for “none of the above”. Too many incidents of kicking the can, even w/ Ogilvie, whom history treats the best, didn’t succeed w/ the income tax in hindsight. And Thompson failed to use his power to solve the biggest problems. The fact that Illinois is still stuck w/ a dysfunctional taxing structure demonstrates the failure of them all.

  18. - Esquire - Wednesday, Jun 29, 11 @ 12:35 pm:

    Based upon personal experience, my answer would be Edgar, but, judging from the history books, the correct answer ought to be Olgivie.

  19. - 47th Ward - Wednesday, Jun 29, 11 @ 12:36 pm:

    It’s Big Jim, and it’s not even close (although CC makes a good point about a low bar). The man was as big as the state, he was a pro at working the legislature. He was an unapologetic champion for all things Illinois and he got big things done. When Chicago was up for grabs between Mayors Daley, Big Jim was a steady hand at the wheel of the ship of state.

    Edgar was a tea-totler, and way too boring for my taste, plus he always pronounced it “Wershington” which bugged me. A decent man and very competent governor, but he’ll always be Little Jim to me.

  20. - Yellow Dog Democrat - Wednesday, Jun 29, 11 @ 12:41 pm:

    Ogilvie was a statesman.

    He had the wisdom and the political craft needed to enact Illinois’ first income tax, even though he had to have known it would make him a one-term governor.

    The rest are mere politicians by comparison, but I’d rank them this way AS governors:

    1. Ogilvie
    2. Edgar
    3. Quinn, Thompson
    5. Ryan
    6. Walker
    7. Blagojevich

    It would be easy to rank Ryan above Quinn & Thompson, except that Ryan was governor during the greatest budget surpluses in Illinois history and left the state with a deficit.

  21. - VanillaMan - Wednesday, Jun 29, 11 @ 12:42 pm:

    Easy question!
    First you sort out the jailbirds…
    Then you sort out the current one and the dead one…
    Then you check for a functioning heart…

    That only leaves Big Jim, the longest serving, youngest, unindicted governor back when we had a future.

  22. - dupage dan - Wednesday, Jun 29, 11 @ 12:43 pm:

    I go with Olgivie due to reasons mentioned above. Took a tough position re taxes even tho it was against the typical GOP vein, even tho it practically assured his ouster. Big Jim was big with the unfunded mandates - bad for other local, etc gov’s. Jim Edgar thought that the GA was dirty and beneath so didn’t engage. I was too young to notice Walker altho I did shake his hand during his campaign tour of the state. A one termer with little to show. Ryan and RB are easy. Quinn has shown his stripes in that he won’t fumigate RB appointees as they could hurt his re-election chances. Waffles on things with his finger in some wierd unknown wind.

  23. - 47th Ward - Wednesday, Jun 29, 11 @ 12:44 pm:

    Hey Rich, I noticed Rod is polling above 4%. How many times are you letting Bill vote?

  24. - Gregor - Wednesday, Jun 29, 11 @ 12:53 pm:

    I was tied, Ogilvie did the most important thing in his term, and he did it knowing the political cost. Thompson is a sentimental favorite and close second, for his smarts and vision. He wasn’t perfect, he made some mistakes, and he wasn’t lilly-white, but he put Illinois on the right track in a number of areas, and he was as good at day to day operations as he was at campaigning. I think he would have made great vice-presidential material, but his moment never quite came


  25. - reflector - Wednesday, Jun 29, 11 @ 12:55 pm:

    A very nice person to talk to.I once spent 45 minutes in his office and felt perfectly welcome.He took care of all our problems,he got the income tax raised at the right time,I really liked him.

  26. - x ace - Wednesday, Jun 29, 11 @ 12:55 pm:

    Hon. Sam Shapiro ( wasn’t in long enough to screw much up )

    But of the choices Olgivie

  27. - Wensicia - Wednesday, Jun 29, 11 @ 12:55 pm:

    I don’t think the modern era is all that great a pool to choose from, the term ‘best’ doesn’t apply to any of them. Ogilvie gets the default position.

  28. - Ghost - Wednesday, Jun 29, 11 @ 12:58 pm:

    Edgar; He did a god job of walking the tight ope between the GOP an the Dems. I did not alway sagree with him, but I always thought he was trying to be fair and reach a consenus with bipartisan support.

  29. - Flashback - Wednesday, Jun 29, 11 @ 1:03 pm:

    I’m sure Edgar thanks god everyday that Mr. Fitzgerald wasn’t around during his MSI issues.

  30. - Responsa - Wednesday, Jun 29, 11 @ 1:03 pm:

    Ogilvie. He was more public servanty and less politiciany than any of the others. As someone else observed above–Ogilvie was the statesman in that group.

    I do think Big Jim has represented Illinois extremely well as an ex-governor, though. Both in Illinois and on the national stage (commissions, etc.)

  31. - JW - Wednesday, Jun 29, 11 @ 1:06 pm:

    I voted for Edgar even though he was a hugh micro-manager and had a bigger than though ego he left the state in its best shape. Thompson we can thank for the terrible shape of the pension systems for failing to pay the Employer pension contribution share for years and years so he could instead “Build Illinois” for his personal legacy.

  32. - One of the 35 - Wednesday, Jun 29, 11 @ 1:07 pm:

    Edgar becuase he understood a very basic principle that has escaped all other modern governors… can’t spend it if you don’t have it. He had to say no to many, but it was the responsible (yet unpopular) thing to do.

  33. - vibes - Wednesday, Jun 29, 11 @ 1:07 pm:

    Ogilive is the only one of those who actually paid his bills. The Jims never supported enough revenues to pay the bills — including pensions — that they signed into law. (Yes, I know Edgar moved the right direction, but still skated by borrowing from the future).

  34. - MrJM - Wednesday, Jun 29, 11 @ 1:11 pm:

    It seems my standard for personal embarrassment is a shade higher than that of others on the blog.

    – MrJM

  35. - CircularFiringSquad - Wednesday, Jun 29, 11 @ 1:12 pm:

    Clearly Big Jim should be the winner.
    Walker was a fluke.
    Ogilvie raised the tax and got the RTA

    Those who like Edgar go look up the tales of the MSI scandal —- tens of millions of tax dollars go out the door to Edgar cronies for work that should be done by the state workforce(really).
    One crony tries to cheat another crony and all hell break loss, staff leaks bring on the G.

    Edgar (who micromanaged anything with a dollar sign attached) gets amnesia, forgets MSI brought free computers to his home, lures major journalist to his team, quits and collects big pension and salary at U of I while serving on the board for an on-line horse betting service.
    Did we mention he had State Police detail mow the lawn at the Log Home because they liked it?

    Now remember the media — blaming editors — alway said MSI was tooooooo complicated. They liked bribes to tavern inspectors, etc and the Ds served up intellectuals to carry their message.

  36. - Bonsaso - Wednesday, Jun 29, 11 @ 1:12 pm:

    47th Ward - Teetotaler, boring, pronounces words like he’s from central Illinois…nothing wrong with that, let’s have a little more boring in our politicians and less swagger.

  37. - VanillaMan - Wednesday, Jun 29, 11 @ 1:19 pm:

    You missed one!
    Remember that one guy who gave us all a tax break while balancing our budget, rebuilding our infastructure, bringing in all those big corporations, busting corruption and raising our standard of living? Me neither.

  38. - Liandro - Wednesday, Jun 29, 11 @ 1:19 pm:

    Edgar, because he was the last governor who didn’t end up in jail. And my memory doesn’t go past him anyway, heh.

  39. - Deep South - Wednesday, Jun 29, 11 @ 1:22 pm:

    Thompson always seemed happy to be governor, enthusiastic about Illinois, engaged and hard working, and knew how to work with the legislature. Voters like him, too.

    Plus, the tireless Jim Skilbeck worked for him.

  40. - VanillaMan - Wednesday, Jun 29, 11 @ 1:26 pm:

    I remember him now…
    Uh, wait a minute…
    Did we have a governor named Pawlenty? Dukakis? I know it wasn’t Huntsmann.

    Illinois? I’ll think of it!

  41. - TwoFeetThick - Wednesday, Jun 29, 11 @ 1:35 pm:

    This isn’t popular, but I voted Ryan. Perhaps I’m biased towards him because he was the only governor during my time on GA staff that I had an opportunity to work with up close. Say what you will about his shortcomings but, when he was in the room, there was no question about who was in charge, and he could definitely get the job done (Illinois FIRST, pushing Safe Neighborhoods through the Senate over Pate’s opposition, for examples). Plus, he was a genuinely nice person. He used to walk in the North entrance of the Capitol and take one of the elevators in the Rotunda to the second floor, shaking hands and talking to everyone along the way. No secret basement entrances like Blago (well, at least not until the end when the press was rightly all over him).

    I don’t think he was doing anything that governors before him didn’t do, he just got caught. I think that’s why the lack of remorse on his part - he doesn’t see how what he did led to those children’s deaths, he was just doing things the way they had been done. Old school.

    Yes, he began with a surplus and ended with a deficit (doesn’t $5 billion sound quaint now?), but the biggest factor in creating that was the damage done by September 11. Despite his corruption, I thought he did a good job.

  42. - VanillaMan - Wednesday, Jun 29, 11 @ 1:35 pm:

    Paul Simon!
    He was our best governor!
    Well, kinda like a governor.
    Lt. Governor.
    That counts.

    OK, I’m struggling but at least I’m not voting for the dead guy who raised my taxes and tried hoisting that stupid ERA on us. Some Republican. Only Democrats supported him. “He was the bestest! XOXOXOX”

  43. - Rich Miller - Wednesday, Jun 29, 11 @ 1:38 pm:

    ===Remember that one guy who gave us all a tax break while balancing our budget, rebuilding our infastructure, bringing in all those big corporations, busting corruption and raising our standard of living?===

    You obviously know little about Ogilvie. Also, about economics.

  44. - wordslinger - Wednesday, Jun 29, 11 @ 1:39 pm:

    1. Ogilvie
    2. Edgar
    3. Quinn, Thompson
    5. Ryan
    6. Walker
    7. Blagojevich

    That’s YDDs lineup and I’ll second it. Ogilvie gets the top spot for being a trailblazer. Corruption aside, Blago was still the worst by far.

    VMan, my heart bleeds for you. You’re so unhappy here in Illinois, why do you stay? Life’s short — take your talents to the private sector and someplace that will make you happy.

  45. - Bemused - Wednesday, Jun 29, 11 @ 1:50 pm:

    Having been in and out of our great state since 1971 I am not well versed enough to vote. I am a history buff but have read little on the subject. I will say this, Thompson and Ryan were not bad for labor. I do think had Edgar stayed MSI may have gotten more intense inspection.

    The Dems on the list have been of the hold your nose and pull the handle type. In government as in a cesspool some things rise to the top you only want to touch with rubber gloves on.

  46. - Commonsense in Illinois - Wednesday, Jun 29, 11 @ 1:51 pm:

    I’m kind of torn being held to one choice. Ogilvie certainly put Illinois on a more sound financial footing and championed the new Illinois Constitution and ERA. Thompson was an individual of vision and helped the state get out of the 1950s. Edgar was the only governor who could say “NO” to legislative spending and pretty much make it stick (note to those recalling MSI - please remember that it was Edgar himself who called the State Police to investigate). Walker, Ryan and Blagojevich each brought shame to the office (albeit Walker did noting illegal while in office, but had the good manners to wait until he had left…) and I think the jury is still out on Quinn. While I’m pretty sure he won’t embarrass the office or himself, I just don’t see the potential for much more than “just below average…”

  47. - LJC - Wednesday, Jun 29, 11 @ 2:00 pm:

    YDD said it for me on Ogilve

  48. - Charlie Wheeler - Wednesday, Jun 29, 11 @ 2:19 pm:

    Historical note:

    Richard Ogilvie instituted the “modern era” of state finance. When he was elected in 1968, Illinois operated on a biennial (two-year) budget, fashioned largely by the Legislature and financed mostly by sales taxes. In his first year, he instituted the annual, executive budget, creating a Bureau of the Budget to provide the executive analytical and fiscal management expertise. He later championed legislation that created the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency, the Illinois Pollution Control Board, and the Illinois Department of Transportation, among other agency reorganizations. And as already mentioned, he proposed and won approval (in part with the support of Chicago Mayor Richard J. Daley) for a state income tax, without which Illinois’ financial condition would have been immeasurably worse over the last 41 years.

    No governor since has had a similar impact on the institutional structure and finance of state government.

  49. - VanillaMan - Wednesday, Jun 29, 11 @ 2:20 pm:

    You got punked by me on Olgilvie.
    The only reason I did not vote for him was because he committed hari kari and Thompson did not. I had the bumper sticker “Olgilvie is a good governor” on my bike.

    But when slinger supports a GOPer, he gotta be too damn liberal for a GOPer.

  50. - Hunterdon - Wednesday, Jun 29, 11 @ 2:34 pm:

    My vote was for Thompson. Jim Edgar was a good man, but when it came to picking folks to head up various state agencies, his choices were TERRIBLE! He appointed a veritbale rougue’s gallery of agency heads - Terry Gainer as head of the State Police, for one example. For this reason, Thompson gets my vote.

  51. - WhyMe - Wednesday, Jun 29, 11 @ 2:35 pm:

    Deep South- Jim Skilbeck was a master of “advance” and made Big Jim look better than he was, but Edgar was the real deal. He gets a bad rap by those who didn’t know him; perception is not always reality.

  52. - Retired Non-Union Guy - Wednesday, Jun 29, 11 @ 3:15 pm:


    I disagree. It was during the Edgar administration I started getting phone requests from higher up bosses asking change competitive bid specs and I started writing CYA emails back to them that began “Per our phone conversation of today @ time, you requested the following changes be made to bid 1234 …” Under Edgar I had to fight all the time to keep the bids I wrote open and competitive. That was my reality …

  53. - wordonthestreet - Wednesday, Jun 29, 11 @ 3:42 pm:

    Perhaps Edgar was honest and ethical… but he sure had a lot of dishonest/unethical people in top positions to walk point for him. When caught, they were quickly sacrificed. The deputy director that was acquitted, as I recall, used the defense that he was totally incompetent and could not be held responsible. (He was incompetent; by the way… just a hack that would do whatever the Edgar team told him to do.)

    Thompson’s first term was fantastic… the best and the brightest (Art Quern, et. al.). As the years rolled by, the talent pool weakened. And by the end, things got really bad (Coler; Tristano; O’Conner; etc.)

    Walker… well, there was hard evidence that his former law partners were running a series of “Medicaid Mills” that defrauded the state out of millions… while he was governor. The fraud unit that tracked down the evidence was quickly eliminated and the files destroyed before the AG could get his hands on them.

    Ryan was a good leader except for his determination that he could operate like his predecessors. Had he partnered with someone ethical instead of one of the world’s biggest asses (Fawell), he would have been the best governor we ever had.

    Only negative on Ogilvie was, as I recall, he signed the bill to outlaw fireworks.

  54. - Kerfuffle - Wednesday, Jun 29, 11 @ 3:44 pm:

    I think a distinction clearly needs to be made between “good men” and “good governors”. Blago and Ryan were not good men. Ryan was a decent governor. Blago was bad on all fronts. Walker was probably a good man who didn’t have a clue politically, couldn’t get along with either party, making him a bad governor. Thompson, Edgar, Quinn and Ogilvie are all pretty decent men. I think Ogilvie, Edgar, and Quinn have had to govern in the most difficult financial periods for the state from the financial standpoint. I believe the jury is still out on how good of governor Quinn is/will be but given that he followed the very worst governor in our history he has to shine somewhat. However I think he probably still pales to Ogilvie and Edgar. I give Ogilvie props for the same reasons others have and place him at the head of the class.

  55. - steve schnorf - Wednesday, Jun 29, 11 @ 4:04 pm:

    a little painful reality theory today in the poll numbers for the anti-Edgarites, huh?

  56. - Louis Howe - Wednesday, Jun 29, 11 @ 4:11 pm:

    Now Steve…You know Edgar’s Deputy Chief of Staff. Do really think he got charged for stuff Edgar didn’t know even happened?

  57. - wordonthestreet - Wednesday, Jun 29, 11 @ 4:19 pm:

    Polls… and elections… have winners and losers. As recent history has shown, winning does not mean that a person is the best person for the job. It usually means that a relatively uninformed electorate thinks you’re not as awful as the other guy (gal).

  58. - Arthur Andersen - Wednesday, Jun 29, 11 @ 4:20 pm:

    AA likes YDD’s and ’slinger’s list with two tweaks: I would rank the Jims as tied for second, leaving Paddy MacCheese Quinn in fourth.

    As others have noted, “early Thompson” was top-flight, but “late Thompson” when all realized the good times were coming to an end, was a different place to work.

    Kerfluffle also makes a good point in his/her post about the person vs. the “administration.”

  59. - Excessively Rabid - Wednesday, Jun 29, 11 @ 4:25 pm:

    Ogilvie for reasons others have given. Looking at the results, seems like a realistic ranking with Quinn fourth but barely ahead of Blago. Ryan was better than either of them, though.

  60. - steve schnorf - Wednesday, Jun 29, 11 @ 4:37 pm:

    Who, Louis? He had several deputy chiefs of staff over 18 years holding constitutional office.

  61. - Cincinnatus - Wednesday, Jun 29, 11 @ 4:40 pm:

    - Bonsaso - Wednesday, Jun 29, 11 @ 1:12 pm:

    “… let’s have a little more boring in our politicians…”

    We’re now swimming in this…

  62. - Yellow Dog Democrat - Wednesday, Jun 29, 11 @ 4:41 pm:

    @Vanillaman -

    Please note that 4 of my top 5 were Republicans.

    Also, there’s not a “conservative” on that list.

  63. - Yellow Dog Democrat - Wednesday, Jun 29, 11 @ 4:49 pm:

    @Schnorf -

    There probably are VERY few people on this blog who were old enough to vote when Ogilvie, Walker or Thompson were governor.

    Don’t take too much comfort in the poll numbers.

    I should mention that part of the reason I don’t rank Thompson higher than some is because of Rutan v. Republican Party of Illinois.

    For those not familiar with the case:

    “In November 1980, Governor James Thompson of Illinois issued an order that prohibited state officials from hiring new employees, promoting state employees, or recalling state employees after layoffs without the approval of the Governor’s Office of Personnel.

    The Office of Personnel based hiring and promotion decisions on factors such as the applicant’s contributions to the Republican Party, the applicant’s record of service to the Republican Party, and the support of local Party officials.”

    We send people to jail, directly to jail, and do not pass go for that now. For a long stretch.

    Come to think of it, Thompson’s behavior was so egregious, I’ve reconsidered my position, and I’m bumping him down below George Ryan and alongside Dan Walker.

  64. - sal-says - Wednesday, Jun 29, 11 @ 4:57 pm:

    1) Crooks need not apply for ‘best’.
    2) Ogilvie probably better than scored; too far back?
    3) Thompson brought us Rutan.
    4) Edgar still acts like a statesman, mostly.
    5) Quinn too early to tell, but jello not encouraging so far.

  65. - waitress practing politics... - Wednesday, Jun 29, 11 @ 4:59 pm:

    47th Ward and Louis Howe have stated my reasons for voting for Big Jim .
    Gov. Thompson brought some great minds from all backgrounds and big thinkers to Illinois.

  66. - Esquire - Wednesday, Jun 29, 11 @ 5:03 pm:

    Olgivie rates for having the fourth Illinois Constitution (1970) adopted and ratified during his term. The previous constitution (1870) lasted for an entire century and, despite having been a good state charter for its time, was hopelessly out of date.

    On the negative side, Olgivie’s administration coincided with the rise of a Springfield political power broker figure named Bill Cellini.

  67. - Yellow Dog Democrat - Wednesday, Jun 29, 11 @ 5:05 pm:

    @TwoFeetThink -

    Please, stop revising history.

    Illinois lost 160,000 manufacturing jobs while George Ryan was governor — over 90,000 before September 11th.

    Schnorf will correct me if I’m wrong here, but I believe the state budget went from $37 billion to $50 billion under Ryan, nearly a 1/3 increase in spending.

    And the final budget passed under Ryan spent about $1 billion more than it took in. We used rosy revenue estimates even though the economy was contracting because no one had the political courage to cut back in the first election on a new map.

    Plus, although I won’t hold what happened as SOS against him directly, Ryan was a weakened lame duck because of the scandal. He left quite a bit of unfinished business on the table because of it, including a structural budget deficit.

    A good question of the day would be asking folks how they think the list of losers would stack up against the folks who won.

    There’s no doubt in my mind that Topinka and Vallas would have been better governors than Rod.

    Not so sure about Burris or Jim Ryan.

    And The Netsch Tax Plan sounds pretty good right now.

  68. - steve schnorf - Wednesday, Jun 29, 11 @ 5:25 pm:

    Dog, I think you are being a little revisionist. As a fact, state average annual approp growth was lower under Ryan than under any Gov since the income tax. There was significant growth in total spending because of Illinois FIRST.

    If VERY few people here were old enough to vote when JRT was Governor, it helps me understand why I sometimes feel like Casey Stengel with the Mets when I read some of the comments here. I worked under Ogilvie, Walker, and Thompson.

    Also, at the time we did it we certainly didn’t know we were over-approping by a billion for ‘03. If you remember, GHR vetoed the GA passed approp for ‘03 down by more than a billion dollars, taking it below the ‘01 approp(see point number one). Son he had the courage to cut back, and the Senate Rs had the courage to hold every one of those more than 100 vetoes, totaling more than 1 billion dollars. Until Gov Quinn, who else actually lowered GRF approp from 1 year to the next besides GHR?

    Remember, since the income tax, state revenues had never fallen year to year. In fact, they had only fallen year to year once since the Depression, and that was by a small amount. We had entered a never before experienced revenue climate, and we didn’t know it yet. We missed the final revenue number big time, but so did 48 other states, and it wasn’t because we were trying to fake some “rosy” revenue scenario, we were just flat wrong.

  69. - Six Degrees of Separation - Wednesday, Jun 29, 11 @ 5:30 pm:

    Big Jim - I give him more props than Edgar because he was a dealmaker that kept IL going forward, many years of which were in tough times like the inflationary late 70’s and early 80’s. Brought a lot of biz to IL, showed what gov’t can do as a facilitator to job creation in the private sector.

  70. - Louis Howe - Wednesday, Jun 29, 11 @ 5:35 pm:

    Steve…Not that you don’t already know, but google “Former Edgar aides named in MSI Case.” They are listed as unidicted co-conspirators.

  71. - Arthur Andersen - Wednesday, Jun 29, 11 @ 5:36 pm:

    For the record, AA voted (for the first time) for JRT in 1976.

    Don’t feel like a fossil, Steve. There’s not much daylight between us on the calendar.

  72. - jerry 101 - Wednesday, Jun 29, 11 @ 5:37 pm:

    Quinn may have his flaws, but he’s brought some major changes to the way this state operates, and he’s done so knowing full well that a lot of those changes wouldn’t win him any popularity awards. I don’t support everything he’s done, or everything he wants to do, but I do support much of it.

    Pushing through needed changes when it’ll jeopardize your political future is the a kind of leadership we need a lot more of.

    I voted for Blagojevich the second time around because it was really a vote for Quinn (I figured they’d get Blago sooner than later). I don’t regret voting for him in 2006 or in 2010.

  73. - Rich Miller - Wednesday, Jun 29, 11 @ 5:37 pm:

    ===significant growth in total spending because of Illinois FIRST. ===

    And Medicaid.

  74. - steve schnorf - Wednesday, Jun 29, 11 @ 5:38 pm:

    so they didn’t “get charged”, Louis?

  75. - Louis Howe - Wednesday, Jun 29, 11 @ 6:00 pm:

    What do you call being an “undidicted cor-conspirator.” Listed as…Charged as…Named as…Pick one.

  76. - Rich Miller - Wednesday, Jun 29, 11 @ 6:08 pm:

    I voted for Ogilvie. The first truly honest Sheriff of Cook County in decades (or perhaps the first ever) turned out to be a visionary as governor, even though he knew it would cost him his political career, and it did. He dragged Illinois into the modern era and he paid the price by being beaten by a demagogue liar. None since have had this sort of courage, perhaps because of that man Walker.

    Adlai did, but he had DC stars in his eyes. Altgeld and Horner were giants. Yates was the greatest Union governor during the Civil War by leaps and bounds.

    Coles beat back the morons who firmly and forecefully believed that attracting southern slaveowners would do wonders for Illinois’ economy.

    Ogilvie ranks right up there with them, in my opinion. He was our last great governor, and he only served one term.

  77. - Rich Miller - Wednesday, Jun 29, 11 @ 6:34 pm:

    ===Listed as…Charged as…Named as…====

    There’s a gigantic difference between being “listed as” something and being “charged as” something. Infinite, in fact.

    Now, please, move along.

  78. - Can't Say My Nickname - Wednesday, Jun 29, 11 @ 6:45 pm:

    My vote goes to Jim Edgar. Edgar had Illinois financially moving forward and was able to work well with both sides of the aisle to get things done. He was also very dreamy…I used to melt when he visited our agency. Edgar always made an effort to talk with many of his employees during the visits. It was a great morale booster.

  79. - LincolnLounger - Wednesday, Jun 29, 11 @ 7:13 pm:

    Ogilvie was a statesman, but I vote for Edgar. He was the last Governor to tell the Speaker and General Assembly ‘no’. Thompson did some good things and there is much to appreciate about his legacy; however, he ruined the Republican Party by building a Thompson machine (instead of a Party apparatus) forcing everyone else to do the same.

  80. - Rich Miller - Wednesday, Jun 29, 11 @ 7:17 pm:

    ===He was the last Governor to tell the Speaker and General Assembly ‘no’===

    You must’ve missed those six years of Rod. Just sayin…

  81. - JustaJoe - Wednesday, Jun 29, 11 @ 9:08 pm:

    Ogilvie, for the reasons noted above. It’s curious that the poll results put Blago above Ryan - Blago has NO redeeming qualities or legacy.

  82. - CircularFiringSquad - Wednesday, Jun 29, 11 @ 9:37 pm:

    Fact check
    Edgar staff called the state police because one set of Edgar cronies were whining that another set of Edgar cronies were not sharing enough of the millions they were getting for doing the job the workforce was already being paid to do

    And how can we forget the State Disbursement Unit that royally screwed up child support checks. That really blew up under Ryan but the planning was done by Edgar

    And did we mention his heated opposition to Motor Voter….?
    His numbers are tunbling keep it coming

  83. - Not a Newcomer - Thursday, Jun 30, 11 @ 2:06 am:

    I wish you would have given us a definition of “best.” My definition was got the most accomplished and had a good working relationship with the GA and other elected officials, so I chose George Ryan. (I obviously did not include honesty and integrity in my definition.)

  84. - Mongo - Thursday, Jun 30, 11 @ 8:06 am:

    Oh I wish I would have seen this yesterday. By far Jim Thompson. Many people don’t remember the insurance crisis for local governments, where all the papers ran pictures of parks with chains and padlocks. Thompson worked with local officials and the GA and got it done. He was literally Big Jim (47th Ward nailed this btw).

    Jim Edgar is second but he was too conservative. I actually think he has become more moderate now that he isn’t Governor.

  85. - Ann - Thursday, Jun 30, 11 @ 9:35 am:

    What a great discussion, and what a way to show off what a bunch of educated readers you have!

    Less educated than your average reader (or at least your average poster in this poll), and pretty much on quick impulse versus careful thought, I voted for Ryan. TwoFeetThick has it down pretty well. He inherited an absolutely corrupt Secretary of State’s office and did not clean it up (and ultimately went to jail for it) but as governor he was thoughtful and effective. I was most impressed by the way he was capable of changing his mind and not simply for political expediency. The death penalty decision was difficult, not popular, and absolutely right. I also saw him in action on the campaign to raise the Medicaid eligibility limit for seniors from 33% of the federal poverty level to 100%. He got it, and once he got it, he acted.

    I commented to a friend after Ryan was indicted “I guess terribly flawed people can do good things.” She replied “yes, because otherwise good things would never get done.”

Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.

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