Quinn-Simon: It is Official

by , posted on Sunday, March 28th, 2010 at 7:34 am

By now most political insiders already know that green yard signs will read, Quinn-Simon for the November 2010 election cycle.  My perspective on the selection process might be slightly different from others, so, I decided to pen my own version.  I covered the initial candidate selection process last week.

Crowds of Turner and

Krishnamoorthi supporters were shivering in the cool morning air when we arrived at The Inn in Springfield around 9:35 a.m. on Saturday morning.  These were the only campaigns that seemed to mobilize supporters.  In advance of this morning’s event, I only know of three candidates who were working phones up until the last minute to get votes.  Sheila Simon and Dirk Enger were calling all committeemen and Raja Krishnamoorthi seems to have invested about six weeks of time calling, e-mailing and snail mailing all of the 38 State Central Committee (SCC) members, was still calling for support.

The Process:

If the first round of “Who Wants to be a Lieutenant Governor” resembled American Idol, the second round resembled Survivor.

Each candidate was given an opportunity to make a three minute speech and then the committee could ask each candidate questions (there were no questions asked of any candidate).

After the presentations, SCC members made nominations for their preferred candidate. The nomination process was followed by an elimination round of voting.  Although the nomination came through with one ballot, the process was set up to be more of a process of elimination.  Those who received lower vote totals would be dropped and a second round of voting would be used until someone achieved 50% + 1 votes.

Let the speeches begin:

Before the speeches started, Congressman Jesse Jackson Jr. raised the first question, asking if proxy votes did not violate the “one man, one woman” vote.  After a short back and forth, Mike Kasper, the State Central Committee’s legal council, determined that a proxy vote is representative of how that committeeman or committeewoman wanted to vote.  Speaker Madigan reassured the committee that the absent SCC members had conveyed their interests to him before granting proxy votes.

Candidates were allowed to speak in alphabetical order.  Senator Susan Garrett and Senator Dave Koehler withdrew before the day began, dropping the number of applicants to fourteen. Of the fourteen candidates to speak, I only took notes on the few who struck me as interesting.

Jennifer and I came supporting the labor candidate, union ironworker, Dirk Enger.  Enger’s speech was notably interrupted with applause more than the others candidates during his eloquent presentation.  The same energy, passion and integrity that fills the room when Enger typically speaks was present during his three minute stump speech.

Also impressive was Lori Koziana, a veteran U.S. Navy Corpsman and a current teacher in the Chicago public school system.  Now I know why fellow blogger, Carl Nyberg, was a strong advocate for Koziana.  She is truly worthy of serving in a public capacity.  Koziana focused her closing remarks on education; using the opportunity to draw attention to the education funding crisis in Illinois.

Raja Krishnamoorthi is worth mentioning because of his passionate and energizing run that seemed to empower a whole new demographic of political activists. 

Raja, who, as a comptroller candidate, opened every speech this past fall by translating the “ancient Asian meaning” of Raja Krishnamoorthi to mean, Illinois Comptroller, corrected that translation error this morning.  He said, “after further research I have determined that Raja Krishnamoorthi really means Lieutenant Governor, and so I knew that I had to apply for this job.”  He focused on his success in the collar counties, his fundraising prowess, his downstate roots in Peoria and the fact that, as the first Asian-American statewide candidate, “you can make history.”  His supporters cheered enthusiastically at his opening and closing – energized by the prospect of being part of that history.

Iris Martinez, the only Latino candidate, and Paul Park, perhaps the most intelligent and thoughtful candidate, further filled out the tapestry of the Democratic Party.  I give Megan Drilling credit for painting a yard sign image in my mind by closing with the idea that, “a winning ticket means Quinn-Drilling.”  I can see the Republicans picking up on running someone with the last name Drilling.

But, at the end of the day, it came down to a race between Art Turner, the second-largest vote getter on Feb. 2nd, and Sheila Simon, the daughter of the late Senator Paul Simon.  Both gave articulate arguments and took more than their allotted three minutes of time.  Both were well received, earning deserved applause, but at the end of both speeches, I wasn’t left with the impression that either one had a burning desire to serve in this capacity.

Sheila Simon was greeted with a warm, lengthy, respectful round of applause while Turner’s supporters raised the roof for a full minute before his extended speech.

Nominations, Votes and Supporters:

There were a total of five nominations to include Simon, Turner, Krishnamoorthi, St. Angel and Enger. 

With no more motions on the floor, Madigan called for a vote.  I scanned the results of that vote into this blog so people can see how every committeeperson voted.

Perhaps the most telling moment was after Sheila Simon was announced as the Lt. Governor nominee.  Turner’s entire half of the room was dead silent, drowned out by the sounds of camera flashes and applause from those who fought side-by-side with Paul throughout his career.  It will be interesting to see how this one plays out in the general election.

Was this a Democratic, bottom-up process or a top-down, back-room deal-making process?

We will never know what made Rep. Boland, Sen. Garrett and Sen. Koehler decide to step aside.  By getting out of the race, those candidates freed up more votes for Sheila Simon, the eventual winner.  We know for a fact that Governor Quinn was making calls on behalf of Sheila Simon.  We know for a fact that Speaker Madigan was counting votes for Sheila Simon, or perhaps just counting votes to help determine if he should use his 80,000 votes or just pass (he did officially pass).  There was some evidence that members of Senator Durbin’s staff were involved in whipping votes for Simon.  With that many players all pulling in the same direction, it would be hard to see how this vote could have turned out any differently.

So, it is probably safe to say that 8-10 candidates got all dressed up, carefully prepared resumes, and gave a three minute stump speech that fell on deaf ears. 

The best-organized candidate won with a lot of help from party insiders who had the connections and experience to give the Governor his desired running mate.  I tend to think that Governor Quinn should get to pick his running mate to balance out the ticket, but someone should change the law so we don’t have to go through this again.

And, as long as we are in Illinois, I feel that we should have a qualified Lt. Governor just in case.  After all, this is Illinois; a state that continues to deliver the best and worst that politics has to offer.  The open process and end results represent one of the better sides, but I would have been happy with any number of the ones who stepped forward – happiest with my union brother and respected friend, Dirk Enger.


Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,

3 Responses to “Quinn-Simon: It is Official”

  1. Christine Cegelis says:

    I am hoping that the many really good people that presented their arguments in front of the DSCC will continue to work in the process. I was very happy to vote for Sheila but she really hooked me in the end when she asked all the candidates to come on the stage with her. As she said they represented the core values of the Democratic Party. There were men and women, old and young, immigrants to the country and native born, veterans, teachers, economists, lawyers, small business owners, union members, people of color and different religions. In other words the DSCC saw value in all the people that call themselves Americans. That statement made me so proud to be a Democrat and so happy to have Sheila Simon on the ticket.

    • John Laesch says:

      Hey Christine. Thanks for posting here!

      I hope that everyone who applied runs for something in the future. In my first post following the first round of this process, I said something similar.

      Most Democratic activists would have walked away from today’s experience saying, “I hope they all line up behind the nominee.” I walked away from today’s experience thinking, “I hope all of these people run for another public office and win.” There is no doubt that Illinois and the nation are both facing a leadership deficit in a political system tainted by money and dominated by the wealth and powerful.

  2. modestybl says:

    I’m listening to Ms. Sarah Palin giving her spiel, and thinking how creepy it is that I can actually understand some of the anger that she and her backers are exploiting. I have always thought that the disconnect between the tea partiers’ politics and their real interests goes back to the decline of the Dem party’s commitment to basic social justice, partly through the “balkanization” of interests (feminists, gay rights, minority rights, etc.) and the reliance on substantial amounts of money to run campaigns.

    The tea partiers correctly perceive that D.C. politicians do not have their interests at heart by and large. We have to retool the Dem party from the state level on down if we are to get legislation that doesn’t turn our stomachs. Was the selection of Ms. Simon a step in the right direction? Or was the fix in beforehand and the state committee’s meeting just a formality? Or both?… We still have a system where the 1st 2nd and 3rd criteria for Dem party support is the amount of money you can raise. I don’t see that system turning out better Dems anytime soon..

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.