Over the last several years, I have had countless conversations with people asking me about the dynamic between Gov. Blagojevich and Lt. Gov. Pat Quinn. As anybody familiar with Illinois politics can tell you, Pat Quinn is a populist's populist. He historically was never one to shy away from taking on a fight on behalf of the citizens.
And at the same time, over the last four+ years, there have been countless issues emanating from the Governor's office that one would think would have Quinn champing at the bit to comment on.
Which is exactly why some folks have been at a loss figuring out how and why he had been relatively quiet since becoming Lt. Gov. Was he cajoled, brainwashed, drugged? Worse yet, had he just lost the fight in him?
Now don't get me wrong, I am hardly saying that Quinn has not been active. Quite to the contrary. Illinois veterans do not have a more sincere friend in our state than Pat Quinn, who has solemnly, and unfortunately, attended countless funerals for fallen soldiers - without fanfare or grandstanding.
Furthermore, he is always one ready to weigh in on a panoply of issues. Some have argued that God invented Sundays to give Quinn a day for his press conferences :)
But on the big ticket stuff, Pat just hasn't been, well, Pat.
That's definitely been changing of late, and people are taking notice. Chris Wills from the AP has a story out about the resurgence of the Old Pat
After four years of playing down any disagreements with Gov. Rod Blagojevich, Quinn is suddenly speaking out, resurrecting the populist approach that originally brought him political success.
"If you overemphasize being on the inside, then when something is just haywire you don't speak out enough," Quinn said in an interview last week with The Associated Press. "My view is that it's time to speak out because there are a couple of things that are haywire."
He called Blagojevich's proposed $7.6 billion business tax "the absolute worst way" to increase state revenues. He accused the governor of standing by while skyrocketing electric rates hit working people.
And he said Blagojevich should be doing more to fight government corruption, especially now that he has won a second term.
This is the stuff that people want to see when they elect Quinn into office. A guy with an opinion, a guy ready to take on the powers that be. Well, most people at least.
But in a recent interview with WBBM-AM, Blagojevich didn't seem to take Quinn seriously. He insisted Quinn isn't part of his administration, although the governor and lieutenant governor are elected as a team.
"Lieutenant Governor Quinn is known as a gadfly. That's one of his charming qualities," Blagojevich said.
I wouldn't be so dismissive of Quinn if I was the Governor. Pat has an uncanny ability to connect with the public and if I had to pick having the approval numbers of one of the two of them, I know whose numbers I'm taking.
Furthermore, as I was quoted saying in the article:
"It's a welcome re-entry to the political arena," Fritchey said. "Media, pundits, politicians alike often look at Pat's agendas as being somewhat quixotic, but I think history has shown that much more often than not, he has been on the right side of the issues."
Hell, just last week a Tribune commentary proffered Quinn as a guy to help end the game of Springfield Roulette between Blagojevich, Jones and Madigan. Not sure that I see that happening, but it would seem to reinforce the notion that Quinn is seen as a guy capable of being above the fray.
We independently elect our Gov. and Lt. Gov. candidates, and in so doing, we are entitled to expect independent leaders with unique perspectives. Good to see we're starting to get what we bargained for. Welcome back Pat.