Are you there, J.B. Pritzker and Bruce Rauner?
It’s us, Central Illinois.
Listen, we need to talk.
Where are you?
We’re less than 100 days from Election Day, but it might as well be 1,000. Your appearances here are few and far between. No rallies. Few signs. No real physical presence.
Are we missing something?
Oh, sure, we’ve seen the ads. About toilets. About puppies. There might have been something about duct tape in there.
We realize those are part of the campaign game, but we’re hungry here for more substantive discussions about your plans for the next four years. We want specifics. About jobs. About education funding. About fixing what’s wrong.
Our state is facing so many challenges on so many fronts.
A massive backlog of bills.
Needed pension reform.
Ou- of-control property taxes.
The lowest bond rating in the country.
And, that's the short list.
Yet, even on the precipice of disaster, we don’t have a clear sense of how your plans will be different than the other guy’s. We certainly haven’t seen you interact with one another.
Such a distance is unfathomable in previous election cycles, or in other states. The difference with you is that you’re both wealthy and, as rich people, you don’t need to rely on fundraising. You don’t need to rally the front lines for cash to keep your campaigns going.
That’s an important (albeit sort of depressing) incentive lost in this race.
There are other reasons. Your visibility is certainly higher in Chicago and the collar counties. And you both have been incognito. Gov. Rauner skipped President Donald Trump’s recent speech at a Madison County steel factory. Pritzker has resorted to photo ops and hasn’t been exposed to tough media questions.
Taken together, it’s an odd turn from what was a rather combative primary with interesting subplots on both sides. House Speaker Michael Madigan, D-Chicago, once again filled his role as a third-rail boogey man.
But then … silence.
Things could pick up later in the summer. The political days this week at the Illinois State Fair, which last year featured a cavalcade of enthusiastic governor candidates and glad-handing, might re-center our attention on the importance of this race. Maybe the return of fall will signal something deep in us.
We hope it does. Without that, the unintended message might be that this election is not significant. Perhaps our electorate is simply inured to all this — the attack ads, the promises, the mud-slinging.
Nothing could be further from the truth. Citizens want to be informed and the best way to do that is by talking to them.
Election Day is Nov. 6. Let’s start discussing the issues.
Remember, unless something unforeseen happens, we’re stuck with whoever wins until 2022.