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Woodford Times - Peoria, IL
  • Statehouse Insider: First you're up, then you're down

  • What a difference a week makes. Two weeks ago, Gov. Pat Quinn gave his State of the State speech, which many took to be the unofficial kickoff to his 2014 re-election effort. Last week, he was hit with a string of unfavorable news.
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  • What a difference a week makes.
    Two weeks ago, Gov. PAT QUINN gave his State of the State speech, which many took to be the unofficial kickoff to his 2014 re-election effort.
    Although there was the usual carping, many observers said Quinn gave a decent enough speech, even if most of it will soon be forgotten.
    Move ahead now to last Wednesday. First up was a new poll by the Paul Simon Public Policy Institute at Southern Illinois University. It surveyed Illinois voters about their preferences in a gubernatorial primary in 2014. Among Democrats, Attorney General LISA MADIGAN held a nine point lead over Quinn. Given the poll's margin of error, the best Quinn could hope for is that he's only four points behind Madigan. This certainly wasn't the first poll showing Quinn losing to Madigan, but it was yet another one with the same bad news for Quinn.
    Just as bad for Quinn, the poll showed more and more people don't think he's doing such a good job running the state. The poll found Quinn's job-approval rating was just under 33 percent. That's nearly 10 percent lower than Quinn was scoring in the same poll just a year ago.
    So Quinn starts Wednesday with another poll reinforcing the idea of a nice guy in the wrong line of work. Then, his lieutenant governor, SHEILA SIMON, holds a brief news conference to announce she'd rather do something else in the future. She told Quinn of her decision weeks ago, and at least there was nothing in last week's poll that would give her second thoughts about sticking with Quinn.
    Simon wants to do something else, which is understandable. She's made more of the office than a lot of lite govs, but there are still limits. The thing is, Simon's next move somewhat hinges on what other people are doing (like Madigan running for governor), so for now she's essentially saying anything's better than this. At least she didn't outright quit, which has been known to happen in Illinois.
    So in a week's time, Quinn goes from the glow, such as it is, of delivering a passable State of the State, to another dismal poll and having his lieutenant governor say thanks, but no thanks.
    Wonder if he ever feels like the old cartoon character with the perpetual cloud over his head?
    * Lest you think the Simon poll made the Republicans feel any better, guess again.
    As you know, any number of Republicans are lining up saying they are ready, willing and able to take on a run for governor. The poll gave respondents a choice of eight names prominently mentioned as definite or likely candidates.
    The overwhelming winner, with more than 50 percent, was undecided.
    Page 2 of 2 - * "In my previous assignment, the only rule was there were no rules, despite the fact they were printed." Sen. CHAPIN ROSE, R-Mahomet. Rose's previous assignment was in the House under Speaker MICHAEL MADIGAN, D-Chicago.
    * The Senate voted last week to let Quinn deliver his budget speech March 6.
    It was not a moment too soon. Without the law, Quinn would have had to deliver the speech on Feb. 20. Coincidentally, that's the day his administration is due in court to defend the idea of charging retirees premiums for their health insurance, something that still isn't happening months after a law was passed authorizing it.
    The speech is being delayed because the Senate is not scheduled to be in session next week, so senators would not be around to hear it. Not that hearing the speech and actually listening to it are the same thing for either the Senate or House.
    By the way, Quinn's budget office said he was prepared to give the speech next week if necessary.
    Doug Finke covers the Illinois Statehouse for GateHouse News Service. Follow him at twitter.com/DougFinkeSJR.
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