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Our view: Too late for ‘tougher’ Pat Quinn

Updated: December 19, 2012 12:54PM



If we were the type who occasionally made a wager or two, we wouldn’t bet on Gov. Pat Quinn having a bright political future.

He barely defeated a weak Republican candidate in 2010, top Democratic leaders don’t seem to take him seriously, he’s likely to face an intraparty challenge in 2014 and his public approval rating in a recent poll is lower than that of the widely disliked House Speaker Michael Madigan.

After exemplifying political timidity while filling out former Gov. Rod Blagojevich’s term and in his first year or so after being elected governor, Quinn has shown more political backbone recently. He has taken on the Democrats’ most powerful constituency, the public employee unions, by trying to close state facilities and pushing hard for pension reform.

And he outmaneuvered Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel this month by getting his person appointed as head of the Illinois Sports Facilities Authority, which runs U.S. Cellular Field and helped build it and the new Soldier Field. Emanuel has a reputation for ruthless politics, but it was Quinn whose calculated move prevailed in the nasty public feud between the two over the new director.

Unfortunately, Quinn’s power play was questionable — causing a seemingly less-qualified person to lead the authority. Kelly Kraft is a former Chicago TV reporter who was Quinn’s spokeswoman before being appointed state deputy budget director.

She was selected over the highly qualified Diana Ferguson, a Yale graduate who has been the chief financial officer at Sara Lee Corp. and the Chicago Public Schools. Just before the meeting where Kraft was appointed in a 4-3 vote, Quinn named a longtime friend to the authority’s board, replacing an ally whose term had expired and who favored Ferguson — and not bothering to inform the outgoing member until he showed up for the meeting.

We’re not sure why Quinn chose a showdown with Emanuel over this particular issue.

We welcome a tougher Pat Quinn, but it should be for the right reasons.



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