Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn speaks during an interview with The Associated Press on Tuesday, Dec. 24, 2013, in Chicago. Gov. Quinn is a longtime advocate for term limits, but has yet to commit to one himself. The Chicago Democrat says that he won't presume a win in his 2014 re-election bid and is taking it one term at a time. He said Tuesday that it's important to first approve an amendment so it's fair for all elected officials. Quinn says he still believes in term limits for executive officials and legislators. (AP Photo/M. Spencer Green)
Gov. Pat Quinn has long been an advocate of term limits, but he has yet to commit to one for himself.
“One term at a time,” Quinn said in anterview Tuesday. “I’m not presuming anything. I’ve got to go out and convince a majority of people to vote for me.”
Quinn is seeking a second full term in 2014.
The former lieutenant governor became governor in 2009 after now-imprisoned former Gov. Rod Blagojevich was booted from office and conficted in a wide-ranging corruption case.
Quinn won his first full term the following year, defeating Republican state Sen. Bill Brady in a tight contest.
Quinn pushed for term limits in the 1990s, when he was state treasurer — calling it the “Eight is Enough” initiative. And he said he still believes in them for executive officials and legislators. But he’s toned down his stance in recent days. He said Tuesday there first has to be a constitutional amendment that will start everyone on the same clock.
“I believe in term limits, but when they’re passed ... I think that’s the only fair way to go,” he said. “I’m running to get re-elected. That’ll be quite a battle in the coming year. There’s all kinds of talkers out there.”
The state constitution doesn’t set term limits for elected officials. Nationwide, more than 20 states have adopted term limits since the 1990s, but just slightly more than a dozen use them because some were either thrown out or repealed, according to Chris Mooney, a political scientist at the University of Illinois at Springfield.
The issue has already been raised in the gubernatorial campaign. Potential Republican challenger Bruce Rauner, one of four Republicans on the March primary ballot, is circulating petitions to get term limits and other reforms before voters in 2014. The Winnetka businessman wants to limit lawmakers to eight years and has vowed to only serve two terms if elected.
“Pat Quinn sounds like a double-talking politician,” Rauner spokesman Mike Schrimpf said. “He already said he opposes Bruce’s term limits effort. Now, Quinn says he wants one set of rules for himself and another for everyone else.”
Rauner, chairman of the Committee for Legislative Reform and Term Limits, has said the group has gathered more than half the nearly 300,000 petition signatures needed to get on the ballot.
Other Republicans seeking the governor’s office — Illinois State Treasurer Dan Rutherford, state Sen. Kirk Dillard and Brady — have said they support the idea of term limits, whether it’s for governors or lawmakers’ leadership posts.