Updated: March 2, 2012 8:19AM
SPRINGFIELD — Pat Quinn, our governor, has many problems.
One of them is Rahm Emanuel, our mayor.
The former has approval ratings, according to a Paul Simon Policy Institute poll last October, in the miserable mid-30s. The latter could have double those numbers, depending upon whose internal surveys you trust.
Emanuel, in his short time as mayor, has shown just how aggressively he, unlike former Mayor Richard M. Daley, is willing to twist the arms of lawmakers in Springfield to get what he wants for the city he runs. Including, last session, a gaming package that Quinn refused to swallow whole.
Still, Emanuel has won glowing press for most of his initiatives, most of the time. Quinn, not hardly.
Now comes Wednesday’s State of the State address. It’s a moment that puts the governor squarely in the spotlight. And provides an opportunity to improve his sagging political fortunes, assert his leadership, and sell his vision for saving Illinois from the financial doomsday at our doorstep.
“Quinn has to turn this ship around,” said Kent Redfield, professor emeritus of political science at the University of Illinois at Springfield. “He has to convince people that he understands the situation. Which is really dire . . .
then articulate something that gets us beyond the next 12 months . . . The stage is all there.”
Redfield, is a veteran of 35 of these speeches, spanning governors named Walker, Thompson, Edgar, Ryan, Blagojevich and now Quinn.
“Can Quinn seize and exercise power?” asked Redfield. It was a rhetorical question.
Jim Thompson, Jim Edgar and George Ryan (for about half of one term) did, though they all were Republican governors who, more often than not, had to deal with Democratic majorities.
Ironically, in this blue state, Democrat Dan Walker ended up fighting with the first Chicago mayor named Daley. And Democrat Rod Blagojevich couldn’t win against his own party’s House speaker, Mike Madigan.
Gov. Quinn has the same problem.
Mayor Emanuel apparently doesn’t.
Take Emanuel’s push for the installation of cameras in Chicago that will automatically ticket those going 5 mph over the speed limit near schools and parks.
That bill flew 100 mph through the General Assembly and now sits on Quinn’s desk.
The relentless Emanuel claims — as he does with everything he wants done — that it’s “for the children.”
Safety is a true consideration, but if this speeding camera bill becomes law, Emanuel’s coffers will pull in a bazillion more dollars, far more than the red-light cameras already ticketing motorists.
Net gain: Emanuel.
Net loss: Quinn.
The populist governor who has already raised the income tax is likely to reap only the fury of ticketed motorists if he signs the bill. And considering Chicago was the base of his victory in 2010, he knows 2014 is not far away.
On the other hand, if Quinn doesn’t begin to play ball with Emanuel better than he has, the legislative initiatives Quinn hopes to pass this session are on life support.
And whom do we expect Madigan to help as he seeks to shepherd his House members to re-election in 2012?
Sadly, we know the state of the state.
Pat has a Rahm problem.