Editorial: Time to shake up state

Posted Online: March 09, 2014, 12:00 am
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The Dispatch and The rock Island Argus
The GOP race for governor pits a wealthy venture capitalist with no government resume against a trio of lawmakers with deep experience and strong records in Illinois government.

Like most folks seeking to hire someone for an important job, we value experience. And Republican Sen. Kirk Dillard, Treasurer Dan Rutherford and Sen. Bill Brady have it in spades. We've lauded all three at various times on these pages over the years, and endorsed Sens. Dillard and Brady in separate gubernatorial primaries.

We also do not subscribe to the notion that "throw-the-bums-out" is the best way for the electorate to respond to challenges in government. We do, however, find truth in the old saw about the problem with doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.

That's why it's time to take a serious look at whether Illinois is so badly broken that only major change will fix it. We believe Mr. Rauner offers voters the best opportunity to launch such an important and overdue debate.
Mr. Rauner's opponents are right that he lacks meaningful experience in the complicated, rough-and-tumble world of Illinois politics and that he has reached deeply into his own pockets, and those of wealthy friends, to bankroll his campaign. But both could also be advantages. Mr. Rauner's wealth and his political independence suggest he will not be beholden to the often-crippling influence of special interests or legislative leaders.

Sens. Brady and Dillard and Treasurer Rutherford say they have the skills necessary to lead a state dominated by the powerful Democrat legislative duo of House Speaker Michael Madigan and Senate President John Cullerton. All have had years to do so, but have not demonstrated results on the grand scale Illinois requires.It's also disappointing that Mr. Rutherford has had the bully pulpit of the treasurer's office at his disposal, but hasn't used it as effectively as we hoped.

His legal entanglements over claims he sexually harassed a staffer and used state workers for campaign duties also have impacted his campaign. Mr. Rutherford has vehemently denied the allegations and should be considered innocent of them unless they are proved to be true. But we believe his failure to release the results of a state-paid internal investigation he has said would clear him will make it difficult for him to win either next Tuesday or in November.

Mr. Rauner suggests that, like Mitch Daniels in Indiana, Scott Walker in Wisconsin and Chris Christie in New Jersey, he is the outsider with what it takes to turn around the state's finances, reduce the red tape crippling business and, most of all, grow Illinois jobs and investment. His impressive real-word success offers hope that his leadership skills will serve him equally well in government. If he's selected by Republicans on March 18, his challenge will be in detailing much more specific plans for getting Illinois back on track.

Based on their records and long commitment to making Illinois a better place to live, we believe Sens. Dillard and Brady and Treasurer Rutherford could slide easily into the governor's office and get to work within the system to try to change it. But is incremental change at glacial speed what Illinois needs? Or is it time to explore shaking up a system that has made one of the best states in the nation one of the worst in far too many categories?
Incumbent Gov. Pat Quinn is expected to easily win the Democratic primary against underfunded and nearly unknown Chicagoan Tio Hardiman. He should. The Chicago Democrat incumbent has earned the right to defend his record in the November election.

We believe Illinoisans would be best served by a General Election contest that features a robust debate on the most important issues facing the state between Gov. Quinn and the status quo and Mr. Rauner and his agenda for change.


Local events heading

  Today is Monday, Sept. 22, the 265th day of 2014. There are 100 days left in the year.

1864 -- 150 years ago: The board of education has granted Thursday as a holiday for the children, with the expectation that parents who desire to have their children attend the Scott County Fair will do so on that day and save irregularity the rest of the week.
1889 -- 125 years ago: The guard fence around the new cement walk at the Harper House has been removed. The blocks are diamond shape, alternating in black and white.
1914 -- 100 years ago: The Rev. R.B. Williams, former pastor of the First Methodist Church, Rock Island, was named superintendent of the Rock Island District.
1939 -- 75 years ago: Abnormally high temperatures and lack of rainfall in Illinois during the past week have speeded maturing of corn and soybean crops.
1964 -- 50 years ago: Installation of a new television system in St. Anthony's Hospital, which includes a closed circuit channel as well as the three regular Quad-Cities channels, has been completed and now is in operation.
1989 -- 25 years ago: When the new Moline High School was built in 1958, along with it were plans to construct a football field in the bowl near 34th Street on the campus. Wednesday afternoon, more than 30 years later, the Moline Board of Education Athletic Board sent the ball rolling toward the possible construction of that field by asking superintendent Richard Hennigan to take to the board of education a proposal to hire a consultant.

(More History)