Bored by the never-ending talk of reforming the state’s underfunded pension systems, political pundits have turned their attention to an election to be held two years from now.
Will Attorney General Lisa Madigan run for governor in 2014? Yes, some say. Maybe, others declare. To be decided, it is agreed.
Word to the attorney general: If you are going to run, there is no better venue to announce your intentions than in this exact space, perhaps next week. Don’t hesitate to give me a call.
While a Madigan bid would surely alter the political calculus among Democrats led by our current governor, Pat Quinn, the Republicans are in a similar tizzy, with U.S. Rep. Aaron Schock of Peoria quietly brawling behind the scenes with wealthy Wilmette hedge-funder Bruce Rauner over their possible bids for the GOP nomination in 2014.
And don’t forget Treasurer Dan Rutherford’s pledge to announce his plan to run for governor, which he said would come sometime after last week’s inauguration of President Barack Obama. We’re waiting for his announcement of a statewide listening tour.
State Sen. Kirk Dillard, R-Hinsdale, also is making plans for a run, as is state Sen. Bill Brady, R-Bloomington. Been there, done that.
Just to keep Quinn on guard, Bill Daley, brother of the former Chicago mayor, is fanning the flames about running in the Democratic primary. Been there, too.
The key thing to remember at this point in the 2014 campaign season is that almost nothing that is written is necessarily wrong. It is pure, idle speculation, put into words because it is too cold out to do anything else besides drink hot cocoa and hope you don’t have to write another story about pension reform.
So here is one version of the mania that could soon befall us:
U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin, a Springfield Democrat, is up for election in 2014. However, his name keeps popping up as a possible Cabinet pick. So, let’s get him off the board and say he jumps at the chance to join Team Obama as Secretary of Something.
Durbin’s departure would then allow Pat Quinn to appoint himself to be Durbin’s replacement in the Senate, leaving behind the impossible chore he’ll have of running for governor at a time when the temporary tax increase is about to expire, leaving Illinois with even less money than it has now.
Under that scenario, Lt. Gov. Sheila Simon would become governor.
However, given the state’s pitiful financial condition, Simon decides she’d rather use her law degree to be the state’s top lawyer.
So, rather than run for a full term as governor in 2014, she decides to run for attorney general in 2014, clearing the way for Lisa Madigan to seek the Democratic nod for governor.
Madigan’s entrance into the race, meantime, scares off about half of the Republican field, leaving just rich-man Rauner, the ever-eager Rutherford and a couple of super-right wingers to duke it out for the GOP nod.
Prospective GOP candidate Aaron Schock will decide to forego another run for Congress to open a chain of ab-centric fitness centers, opening the door for a run for Schock’s congressional seat by Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood’s offspring, Darin, currently serving as a state senator from Dunlap.
One new feature of the 2014 election season is that candidates for governor must also declare who they are running with. In the old days, candidates for lieutenant governor ran on a separate ticket in the primary election and then, based on who won, were paired with their party’s standard-bearer in the general election.
That’s how Pat Quinn found himself playing second fiddle to the foul-mouthed, follicle-obsessed former governor who now resides in a federal lock-up in Colorado.
For Republicans, that means a furious search is under way for a Hispanic lieutenant governor candidate, preferably someone with law enforcement credentials who also owns a farm and believes in allowing Illinoisans to carry concealed weapons. Good luck to them.
Don’t take any of this seriously. This is like the week leading up to the Super Bowl, where a certain sports network must fill hours of programming time with speculation on whether the Harbaugh brothers support legalizing same-sex marriage and driver’s licenses for illegal immigrants.
But, if any of it comes true, just remember where you read it first.