Friday, April 17, 2009

Gov. Pat Quinn appoints Dr. Quentin Young and hires Daniel Biss: emerging gubernatorial campaign themes? Lessons from Obama?

Gov. Quinn starts fumigating the scandal plagued Health Facilities Planning Board with old ally Dr. Quentin Young

Daniel Biss (D-Evanston) showed up this morning as an observer at a presser held by Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn(D) on the 15th Floor of the Thompson Center in Chicago to announce Quinn's appointment of eighty-five year old, long-time liberal "single payer," advocate, Dr. Quentin Young, as Chairman of the scandal plagued Health Facilities Planning Board. The scandals involved, among others, now convicted felons Stu Levine and Tony Rezko, as well as impeached Governor Rod Blagojevich [See here and Read here and listen to this morning's Richard Steele WBEZ interview with Quinn ].

Gov. Quinn: "Out, Out, damn Blago spots."

Governor Quinn, although nominated separately from Blagojevich in the 2002 and 2006 Lt. Gov. Democratic Primaries, was Blagojevich’s Lt. Gov. running mate in both the 2002 and 2006 general elections, and Quinn may have been closer to Blago during the 2006 campaign than many would say was warranted by the objective facts on the ground. The association with Blagojevich has tarnished Quinn’s image a bit, and you can bet Attorney General Lisa Madigan, if she runs in the Dem primary against Quinn, will raise that issue. Of course, the sins of the father may be visited on the daughter, as Speaker Mike Madigan co-chaired the 2006 Blagojevich re-election campaign with Mayor Daley, notwithstanding the contempt shared by Madigan and Daley for Blago. And, of course, any Republican Guv nominee will also target the Blago-Quinn history, should Quinn get the nomination.

Populism redux- the fumigators

On the other side of the coin, both Dr. Young and Gov. Quinn project a populist, reformer image. Both walked across the state of Illinois in 2001 [as Quinn’s press release put it today] “to promote decent healthcare for everyone.” One can imagine Quinn and Young, locked arm in arm, going door to door in an effort to “fumigate state government,” and that will be a major theme of a Quinn’s campaign. Today’s appointment of Dr. Young is just one such effort of what we will be seeing on a much larger scale as the 2010 Guv campaign unfolds.

Daniel Biss, North Shore Wunderkind?

Back to Daniel Biss. He made a splash as a web fund raiser in his ultimately failed 2008 campaign against six-term Republican incumbent State Rep. Beth Coulson (R-Glenview) in the Democratic/Independent 17th District. The 17th District, which includes a portion of Chicago’s affluent North Shore suburbs, is a seat that Speaker Mike Madigan thought he had re-districted in 2001 to be too Democratic for even the very moderate Republican Beth Coulson to survive (Coulson’s critics, e.g., Family Pac’s Paul Caprio, call her a RINO, i.e., Republican In Name Only).

Coulson’s 2002 scare

But, in 2002, Coulson, running as a two term incumbent in what was a largely new district, won her closest race to date [674 vote margin] against Pat Hughes [See here]. In an appearance on Public Affairs during that race, Coulson, who takes her independence very seriously, declined to endorse even her very moderate Republican congressman Mark Kirk. Some say Speaker Madigan was convinced that Pat Hughes (a Catholic male) had the wrong religion and gender for the district and he came back in 2004 with a Jewish female nominee for the 17th, Michelle Bromberg.

Speaker Madigan’s mistake

Perhaps Bromberg had the right gender/religion for the district, but she had everything else wrong for the district and she got spanked badly in 2004 by Coulson, who was running against a ticket led by the ever popular Barack Obama, who spanked the ever unpopular Maryland import, Alan Keyes, to win Illinois’ open U. S. Senate seat with 70% of the vote.

In 2006, the Speaker had sort of given up on the 17th District, and the Dems went with Judith Rae-Ross to try to turn that seat blue. With too few resources, she was spanked badly by Coulson.

Biss gives Speaker Mike one more shot in 17th

In 2008, Biss , a young Jewish, male intellectual (then Assistant Professor of Mathematics at the University of Chicago) who won the hearts and minds of the progressive wing of the local Democratic Party and did quite well at raising money, including on the web, was thought by many to be just what the Dems needed to finally remove Coulson. After all, Obama was now running for President and he would be quite a motivator with long coattails for the independent minded 17th to go firmly Democratic. Biss had the right religion, if not the right gender for the District. He also had the smarts that Bromberg lacked and that are valued in the 17th. Further, Biss had the youth that Judith Rae-Ross lacked. In short, it was said that Biss had many, if not all, of the right traits, including energy and over-all appeal, to finally unseat Coulson.

Yet, when the votes were counted, Biss lost by 3%, or almost 1600 votes, more than double the margin that Hughes had lost by in 2002. After six years of trying, the Dems and Speaker Mike appear ready to throw in the towel in the 17th District, at least until they can perhaps re-district that baby even more Democratic in 2012. Of course, to do that, it would be helpful for the Dems to keep the Governor’s mansion Democratic. The mansion is now physically occupied by a Democrat, Pat Quinn, not just spiritually as it was under Blago [All concede that the Democrats, with a veto proof Senate majority and an almost veto proof House majority, will continue to control the Illinois legislature for purposes of redistricting in 2011]

Biss, in need of more re-districting for 17th

To maintain their total control of re-districting in Illinois, the Dems need to keep the Governor’s mansion in their column. That effort to keep Quinn, or the Democrats, in the Guv mansion may help explain Daniel Biss’ more than casual interest in this morning’s presser at the Thompson Center in the Loop. [Further, if Kirk runs for the U. S. Senate, then State Rep. Coulson probably runs for the open 10th CD seat; At that point, Biss has a good shot at the open 17th Dist. seat—and Speaker Mike finally prevails in the 17th, most likely].

Biss: from the University of Chicago to 39K at the Governor's office.

Biss told this journalist, before this morning’s press conference, he has just started working in the Governor’s office as a policy advisor, with a focus on “electronic democracy.”

The Governor’s press office confirmed late this afternoon that Biss is no longer an Assistant Professor of Mathematics at the University of Chicago and that he is working full time in the Governor’s office, as a policy advisor, earning 39K per year.

The camera shy Pat Quinn and Daniel Biss

Biss, however, declined the opportunity to do a video interview after the presser was over. That’s one thing about Biss. Seems to be a bit camera shy. Perhaps that’s a drawback in politics.

About a year before the November, 2008 general election, this correspondent spoke with Biss and his handlers about scheduling a time for Daniel Biss to appear on “Public Affairs.” We would have thought Biss would be a candidate who would want to get his message out early and often, especially against the very popular and very well known State Rep. Coulson. Biss and his handlers assured the Public Affairs host he would do the show, but it would have to wait until “later on in the campaign.” But, later never came for Biss—in terms of agreeing to do the show.

Biss’ boss, Gov. Quinn, has also never done “Public Affairs,” either as Lt. Gov. or Gov., notwithstanding many invitations to do so. With 83 K in his campaign fund, you would think Quinn could use some earned media.

Lessons from Obama

In contrast to Quinn and Biss, Barack Obama appeared on the “Public Affairs,” half hour political interview show five times, first as a state senator discussing racial profiling and racial profiling legislation in 2001 and then as a potential and actual U. S. Senate Candidate discussing domestic, foreign and cultural public policy issues in 2002-2004 [Watch here for Obama-Berkowitz interview clips and review of same by New York Times].

Further, State Senator (and later U. S. Senator) Obama did many post-campaign event video interviews with “Public Affairs,” host Berkowitz in 2002-04 and post press conference and other video interviews in 2005-06. Of course, as we all know, Barack Obama went from the State Senate to the U. S. Senate to the Office of President, essentially in a short six year interval.

In terms of appearing on political interview shows, perhaps there is a lesson to be learned from Obama by Biss, Quinn—and others: Do the Berkowitz show and you, too, could be President. We look forward to interviewing Biss and Quinn in their new jobs.
Jeff Berkowitz, Show Host/Producer of "Public Affairs," and Executive Legal Recruiter doing legal search can be reached at *************************************************************
"Public Affairs," is a weekly political interview show airing in Chicago on CANTV, in the Chicago metro area, Aurora and Rockford on Comcast and also often on the Illinois Channel. You can watch the shows, including archived shows going back to 2005, here.
Recently posted shows on the Public Affairs YouTube page include the fastest five minutes on the web- a New York Times video about Obama-Berkowitz, a show with State Rep. Rickey Hendon (D-Chicago) about hot state legislative issues and politics, a show with Bill Brady, State Senator and 2010 Republican Primary candidate for Governor, a show with State Senator and likely 2010 10th CD candidate Susan Garrett(D-Lake Forest), a show with State Rep. Mark Beaubien (R-Wauconda), a show with State Rep. Susana Mendoza (D-Chicago), a show with then IL 5th CD Dem nominee--Cook County Cmsr. Mike Quigley (who recently won the April general election to replace Cong. Rahm Emanuel), the second fastest five minutes on the web- a segment of Bill O'Reilly with Berkowitz discussing a clip of Obama from 2002 on Blagojevich and many more shows. And, see here for very recent postings on our Youtube page.