In October 2010, I wrote what may go down as the most back-handed candidate endorsement in the history of my former employer, The State Journal-Register. I can sum it up neatly with just the first and last paragraphs:
If we have learned anything from the past eight years, it is this: Illinois Democrats don't work well together...
That's why today we endorse Republican state Sen. Bill Brady for governor. In fact, it's the only reason we endorse Brady.
...Brady has given us no indication that he understands the scale of this state's financial trouble. His plan amounts to waving a magic wand and hoping for a return to 1996.
We can only hope that maybe, as a Republican governor, Brady will manage to stir enough across-the-aisle cooperation to break the stalemate that finds Illinois in a deep hole and sinking fast.
Substitute "Rauner" for "Brady" in that last paragraph and I think you'd capture the mindset of the majority of voters four years later. (It also arguably could apply to the "magic wand" comment.) By 2014, things had gotten only worse under all-Democrat control in Springfield despite a sizable income tax increase passed by Democrats shortly after Pat Quinn narrowly defeated Brady in November 2010.
From 1977 to 2003, Republican governors had presided over state government in which Democrats, in all but a few years, controlled at least one chamber of the General Assembly. There was a healthy tension that made both sides aware they needed to cooperate for the good of the state. Sure, there was acrimony at times, but rarely did it devolve into outright dysfunction. Both sides knew that long-term dysfunction in government would hurt them, so they found common ground and forged ahead.
I think many, if not most, of the voters who chose Rauner in 2014 did so because they wanted a return of this healthy tension between the parties. They believed, as my editorial board had in 2010, that the ruling Democrats couldn't share all the power and run an effective government. There were many metrics from the previous 12 years that gave them proof: a staggering unpaid bill backlog despite nearly four years of record income tax revenue, an unemployment rate that sank Illinois from the middle of the pack to the bottom, a precipitous decline in manufacturing jobs.
Needless to say, it's not healthy tension that we have now in Springfield. What we have is gridlock amid a winner-take-all battle of political philosophies. And as the presidents of the state's public universities have made clear lately, we're reaching the point where the gridlock is inflicting irreparable damage...
Continue reading at Reboot Illinois.