Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Jim Ryan: A gubernatorial tax increase in your future?

Jeff Berkowitz: Implicitly, you support the notion of a 5.5 billion dollar net increase in taxes, right?

Jim Ryan: Right. In principle, I support HB 750, right.
Jim Ryan to join Gov race?

As Yogi Berra said, it’s Déjà Vu all over again. Ex-Gov candidate Jim Ryan is reportedly considering joining the current six candidate contest for the Republican nomination for Governor.

Competitors for the Republican nomination for Governor in 2010.

Senator Bill Brady (R-Bloomington), who is thought to be the frontrunner for the 2010 race, is a refugee from the 2006 Republican gubernatorial primary: 3rd place finish (with 20%) among four candidates. Andy McKenna, Jr., State GOP chairman for almost the last five years, recently entered the field. McKenna is thought to have sufficient wealth and fundraising ability to give Brady a run for his money, so to speak. McKenna, a refugee from the 2004 U. S. Senate Primary, came in 4th place out of 4 major candidates in that race, after spending more than two million dollars of his own money and another two million dollars from his network of wealthy friends to get 14 % of the vote. Jim Ryan retired from politics after losing to Rod Blagojevich in the 2002 gubernatorial race, 52% to 45%.

Rounding out the field is political consultant and pundit Dan Proft, State Senator Kirk Dillard(R-Westmont), DuPage County Board Chairman Bob Schillerstrom and wealthy, retired businessman Adam Andrzejewski.

Assessing Jim Ryan as a 2010 Gov candidate

Jim Ryan brings to the race some positives, a medium size negative and some very large negatives.

The Positives

For starters, Jim Ryan has a history of great personal integrity and character, which has been tested and has survived personal and family disease and family suicide. When he went up against Blagojevich, Ryan emerged with his dignity intact, if not a victory. Facing distortions of his record by Blagojevich during a WTTW debate, an indigant Jim Ryan appeared ready to throw a roundhouse right. Instead, he glared at Blago and said, “Have you no shame.” It was an effective response for the night, if not the campaign.

The medium-size negative

Although being consistently Pro-Life in advocacy, some pro-Lifers criticized Jim Ryan in 2002 for appearing to apologize for his pro-Life views. Former State Senator Pat O’Malley, who came in second of three candidates in the 2002 gubernatorial primary with 29 % to Ryan’s 44%, accused Jim Ryan of not doing enough as the State’s two-term Attorney General to stop live birth abortions at hospitals.

Ryan's large negatives for the Gov race

On the very negative side, especially for the Republican Primary, would be Jim Ryan’s expressed views to this journalist about favoring a massive increase in the income tax
, only partially offset by property tax reductions. In other words, Jim Ryan favors [or, at least did about two years ago] the approximately six billion dollar net increase in state taxes, aka a tax swap, initially authored by Jim Ryan's current colleague, Ralph Martire, and promoted by Rev. and State Senator James Meeks.

And, there is the name-Ryan. A lot of voters, in 2002, thought Jim Ryan was related to George Ryan, the then unpopular, but not yet indicted, Governor. Those same voters might still think Jim is related to George, who is now doing time in an Indiana federal prison for public corruption convictions.
Jim Ryan (Cont): “I did support HB750, [although] I think it is a moot issue…” “I think the idea of some permanent revenue stream for education and ultimately for health care is very important for our state and I do think we have a revenue problem…” “We still have…probably over a three billion dollar budget deficit again in the State…”
Jeff Berkowitz: As a member of the [Center for Tax and Budget Accountability] Board and I realize you are saying that legislation doesn’t generally go thru exactly as proposed, if somebody says to you that Board is supporting HB 750-

Jim Ryan: I am comfortable saying I support it.

Jeff Berkowitz: Implicitly, you support the notion of a 5.5 billion dollar net increase in taxes, right?

Jim Ryan: Right. In principle, I support HB 750, right.
Jeff Berkowitz phone interview with former Attorney General Jim Ryan, June 19, 2007, go here to read more about Ralph Martire, the Center for Taz and Budget Accountability's Board and Jim Ryan's role on that Board. .