Given the absolute disgrace that the office of governor has become in modern times, it’s something of a marvel that anyone wants it. Yet as we go to press, we count sixteen candidates—four Democrats, nine Republicans and three separate third-party candidates—for an election less than a year away. And with some candidates just getting into the race as we write, and positions on issues still being developed, it will be truly amazing if we end up with any kind of logical choice. While our current governor, Pat Quinn, has certainly not set the agenda on fire, and has come off as surprisingly wishy-washy on some reform issues, he is the kind of mavericky candidate that we would have looked for to clean up after the Ryan and Blagojevich years. (He was elected Lt. Governor on the Democratic ticket, but those two were far from friends.) His political legacy before now was defined as an outsider (as opposed to his principal Democratic opponent, Dan Hynes, son of longtime Chicago political leader Tom Hynes) and even a troublemaker to the powers that be: he helped organize the Citizens Utility Board and led the “The Coalition for Political Honesty” which successfully campaigned to reduce the size of the Illinois House. As his aspirations and his offices have reached higher levels, he’s seemed to lose some of his swashbuckling spirit, and we sometimes wonder if he’s not more effective on the outside tearing down the walls of power, but we’re ready to give him the benefit of the doubt, for now. After all, he not only inherited the same economic mess plaguing virtually every other state, but he also had to step into Rod Blagojevich’s shoes, which is like walking barefoot in a briar patch. But that question mark up there, after his name, means we’re a long way away from making up our mind.
Best of Chicago 2009