Posted Online: Jan. 28, 2013, 2:03 pm
Editorial: Aaron Shock for governor? Yes, but why stop there?
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The Dispatch and The Rock Island Argus
Aaron Shock for Illinois governor? Yes, please.
But don't stop there. Contrary to the Peoria GOP congressman's apparent wishes expressed last week, we fervently hope he's one of many Republicans who will compete to run in 2014 for the chair now occupied by Gov. Pat Quinn. Or Democrats, for that matter. The more the merrier.
Indeed, it's welcome news that the incumbent Chicago Democrat, Quinn, whom one poll indicates is the most unpopular governor in the nation, could face some tough competition from within his own party, with powerhouse names like Lisa Madigan and Bill Daley being bandied about.
Published reports say that the brother of Mayor Richard M. Daley and former commerce secretary and Clinton White House chief of staff has been making calls regarding a run. And Illinois Attorney General Madigan hasn't ruled it out, either. She told ABC, "I think there's a lot of people who are considering what they want to do in the future and if they can be of greater service to the people of the state. I am among those people."
Political observers tell us they aren't the only politicians -- Republican or Democrat -- who smell blood in the gubernatorial waters. It's not hard to see why. According to Public Policy Polling, Gov. Quinn's approval rating stands at just 25 percent.
Of course, the governor's low marks probably don't come as much of a surprise to downstate voters. He won only three counties in 2010. But when one of them is Cook County, it's enough to get the job done. Next time, we'll see.
According to the Chicago Tribune, Rep. Schock's indicated last week that some Republican hopefuls should get out of the way so that the party will have a better chance to beat Gov. Quinn or any other Democrat next November.
The one-time political wunderkind who, at age 31, already has served three terms in Congress after serving in the Illinois General Assembly, didn't exactly say he is running, but he appeared to spend an awful lot of time explaining what was wrong with other potential candidates and why they should get out of the way. No doubt Gov. Quinn would be happy to make the same argument to the Democratic faithful. But if they got their wish, it would be bad, not just for their parties but for the candidates and the state.
Competitive primaries serve a number of important functions. In addition to giving voters more information about their eventual standard bearer, they foster the free exchange of ideas central to democracy. That's always important, but in this financially crippled state today, such a democratic exercise is essential. For example, even as Rep. Schock was suggesting that his party would be wise to forgo a competitive primary, word was coming that a key government credit rating agency was downgrading Illinois once again. Our creditworthiness rating is now the worst in the nation. And still the Land of Lincoln lacks the leadership and ideas necessary to resolve the financial crisis destroying it, particularly the $96 billion public pensions underfunding that is leading agencies like Standards and Poors to warn creditors about investing in our state.
Even if leaders emerge in Springfield to successfully attack that problem -- and with each passing day, hope for a resolution wanes -- there are other matters of equal import, like the $9 billion in unpaid bills stacked up in Springfield that aren't likely to go away before next year.
Curtailing debate regarding such weighty matters should be the last thing that those who would be governor should be promoting. Indeed, primaries not only offer the opportunity for free debate of important ideas and problems, they help the parties, with input from their constituents, to fashion the platform of ideas and potential solutions they will carry into November.
Congressman Schock for governor? Yes, and any other battle-tested leader who thinks he or she has the skills and the ideas to fix what's broken in a state in serious need of both.