It looks like the Republicans have managed to focus a couple of down ballot races on an easy-to-understand issue. And one that is probably popular with the public.
GOP comptroller candidate Darlene Senger and Republican treasurer candidate Jim Dodge have been going around the state together and individually campaigning on the issue the two offices should be merged. (As an aside, if you knew the names of those two candidates before reading them here, you deserve credit for being unusually well-informed).
It’s not a bad move, since there are precious few issues in these races. The stuff that does come up often falls into a category that could be labeled good-government initiatives that it’s sort of hard to campaign against.
So the Republicans are making it an issue that the two offices should be merged, which they say will save the state millions of dollars. Just how many millions is up for argument since the Democrats are saying the Republicans are exaggerating the savings. It’s enough to say some money would be saved. The Republicans also get the benefit that House Speaker Michael Madigan has long opposed the idea and he’s one of the major themes of this year’s state elections.
The counter-argument from the Democrats is the offices should remain separate to maintain proper checks and balances and prevent misuse of public funds.
Electing the Republican candidates doesn’t ensure the offices will merge. That will take a constitutional amendment and the legislature has to approve placing that on the ballot. That part probably won’t get mentioned very often. In the meantime, merging the offices is still a decent issue to raise.
A tidbit from a recent report on the state budget: In 2002, the State Employees Retirement System had 81,680 active members. It is now at 59,200. That’s about a 27 percent decrease.
State government employment is way down and has stayed that way for years. It’s probably not going back up, but it’s also hard to see how much more could be cut.
Rep. Tim Butler, R-Springfield, was named as a co-chair of the Illinois Bicentennial Commission last week.
Butler has been active in bicentennial events and has sponsored legislation to advance the observance.
Another of Butler’s qualifications is that he represents the same district that Lincoln did when he served in the legislature. And, Butler is the great-, great-, great-, great-grandson of Lewis Barker. Barker was elected and served in the first four state legislatures.
Wonder if he chafed under Madigan’s speakership?
Perhaps there’s still hope for voter taste in those bicentennial polls being run by the state.
Voters recently took a dangerous turn toward endorsing mediocrity in selecting the best musicians in the last one of these polls. Best to just forget that one.
The latest poll dealt with the best artist/architect of all time with a connection to Illinois. The results this time were decidedly different. Voters selected Frank Lloyd Wright as the tops in this category. It may have been a safe choice, but it was also a quality choice.
The second place finisher was Lorado Taft, the sculptor probably best known for the “Eternal Indian” statue along the Rock River near Oregon. It’s probably better known as the Blackhawk statue. Unfortunately, the concrete statue is crumbling and badly needs repairs.
Coming in third was Louis Sullivan, another architect, who is considered the father of the skyscraper.
We’ll have to see how the next category turns out. Voters are being asked to select the best actor with an Illinois connection. The choices range from truly accomplished actors and actresses to people whose celebrity outweighs their acting talent. Where will tastes run?
Contact columnist Doug Finke at firstname.lastname@example.org.