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Black and blue
Will Illinois Get Its Scott Walker?

Illinois’s public employee unions are bracing for a fight they’re not going to like: a race between two gubernatorial candidates bent on public pension reform. Worse still for the unions, the Democratic candidate, incumbent Governor Pat Quinn (D), is vulnerable, reports the New York Times. Republican candidate Bruce Rauner, a private equity millionaire, hopes to ride the red wave that has carried Mitch Daniels (R-IN), Scott Walker (R-WI), Rick Snyder (R-MI), and John Kasich (R-OH) to the helms of Midwestern battleground states. Can he do it?

Illinois is in bad shape. The two governors before Quinn (a Republican and a Democrat) were both sent to federal prison on corruption charges. The state is a nation-wide leader in job losses. Its pension system is underfunded by about $100 billion. Its largest city Chicago, the current murder capital of the U.S., is incurring credit downgrades at the rate of a banana republic, while many of its schools are closing and its population is in rapid decline. In 2008 it looked like the new President of the United States would have the same affectionate connection with Illinois that Harry Truman had with Missouri or Ronald Reagan had with California; today, no one can remember the last time President Obama so much as mentioned his home state.

This goes a long way toward explaining why the labor unions are so afraid of a Republican reformer in such an otherwise deep blue state:

In the primary election, some public sector union leaders took the unusual step of endorsing a different Republican candidate and urging voters — even Democrats — to vote against Mr. Rauner on the Republican ballot. Their chosen candidate, Kirk Dillard, a state senator, did better than polls had anticipated. On Wednesday, they said they would redouble their efforts to prevent Mr. Rauner’s election in November. “Labor will definitely be united against him,” said Daniel J. Montgomery, president of the Illinois Federation of Teachers.

Another union leader added: “He’s clearly a man obsessed with destroying unions.”

The decision that Illinois makes will say a lot about the current state of the blue model in America. Will Governor Quinn be compelled to flash his pro-labor bona fides by downplaying his leadership on pension reform? Will unions actively support Quinn, or just attack the Republican Rauner? Is Illinois ready to follow Wisconsin and Indiana into the post-union era? We’ll be watching.

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  • Bruce

    Rauner is also talking about term limits. The odds of implementing are low, but people in a state that have been victimized by career politicians to the degree Illinois has are receptive to the message. In a legitimate election, there is a decent chance Rauner could win, but the odds of that type of election are low. What needs to be done to win for the Dem and union candidate in Illinois will probably be done. Vote fraud is nothing other than a violence free coup d etat (there probably would be violence if someone tried to stop the fraud) and prison terms associated with it should be long. It undermines our Republic and is comparable to treason. Wisconsin has surprised us, maybe there is hope.

    • Corlyss

      Well, it would help if the voters really cared about their notoriously corrupt slime that serves as their government. But they don’t. They think pols are all the same so why trade the known sleaze for the unknown sleaze, esp. when the unknown sleaze might really try to reform things. IOW, I’ll believe it when I see it. Voters have cleaned up a couple of big cities in the increasingly distant past, after some complete meltdown of service delivery. But until that happens state-wide, the voters won’t be mad enough.

  • Jacksonian_Libertarian

    The Labor Gang Monopolies need to be broken up so that they will face the feedback of competition, which forces continuous improvements in Quality, Service, and Price in free markets.

    • Corlyss

      There is no reason whatever for the existence of unions with the Labor Dept., legislation that guarantees pay and safety issues, and a legislature that can dictate minimum wage. All the functions of unions were syphoned off to law and government over 100 years ago. Unions should be illegal.

  • Corlyss

    Nope. Not in Illinois.

  • paulejb

    “He’s clearly a man obsessed with destroying unions.”

    A man for his time. Slay the greed ridden public employee unions.

  • Lina Inverse

    Would it be impolite to point out that without a Republican state house Walker would be a footnote in history, perhaps best known as the governor who signed a “shall issue” concealed carry law ending the state’s absolute prohibition of it? (Before him the Democratic legislators had passed at least one bill, only to see it vetoed by the former Democratic governor.)

    All following figures are Democrat/Republican:

    Wisconsin went from 18/15 Senate, 52/47 Assembly, to 14/19 and 39/60 for the 2009 legislature (the counts include 2 Independents caucusing with the major party).

    Illinois right now is 40/19 Senate, 71/47 House, that’s 68% and 60% Democratic. It’ll take something really earthshaking, and very unlikely in the foreseeable future, for those super-majorities to melt.

  • mrego

    Mitch Daniels is no longer ‘at the helm’. Mike Pence is. Please update.

  • Bob Foys

    The facts about Chicago and Illinois are bleak enough without the exaggeration in this article. Chicago is NOT the murder capital of the U.S. — in fact, it’s not even in the top ten among U.S. cities. Nor is the city’s population in rapid decline. Some 200,000 blacks have left the city in the last ten years for the suburbs and even Iowa. That accounts for closing many of the underpopulated schools. The two mile radius around City Hall is the fastest growing urban area in the country. The state is so blue, however, that it’s better than even odds that Quinn and his fellow Chicago pols will be re-elected. Here’s one example of the power of the teachers’ union’s power. In 2011 an African-American state senator from Chicago’s bill for a modest school voucher program that would allow students to escape from severely underperforming schools was defeated because it couldn’t draw support from downstate Republicans fearful of union opposition. The state is doomed.

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