Illinois Statehouse News | Analysis

Quinn visits Walter Reed to bring holiday cheer to soldiers

2013-12-23T00:00:00Z Quinn visits Walter Reed to bring holiday cheer to soldiersKurt Erickson Lee Springfield Bureau nwitimes.com
December 23, 2013 12:00 am  • 

For the first time in eight years, Gov. Pat Quinn didn’t go to Germany during the holiday season.

As part of his relentless focus on veterans and the military, Quinn has typically trekked to Landstuhl Regional Medical Center southwest of Frankfurt to deliver holiday cards to wounded service members.

This year, however, officials at the largest American hospital outside of the U.S. told him to scrap the journey because there weren’t enough wounded warriors to justify the trip.

Part of the reason for the lack of injured troops is the drawdown in Iraq and Afghanistan, he was told.

With the foreign trip scrapped, Quinn headed to Maryland on Thursday to visit those at the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center.

He brought with him holiday cards written by Illinois schoolchildren.

“I salute everyone who took time this holiday season to show their support and appreciation for heroic veterans and servicemembers,” Quinn said in a prepared statement before departing. “We can never thank our soldiers enough for the sacrifices they have made to keep us safe and to secure our freedom.”

UNFINISHED BUSINESS

Perhaps when Quinn returns to the office today, he can take care of some long unfinished business.

Back in April, Quinn did not reappoint Joanne Maitland to the Illinois State University board of trustees.

He offered no explanation for why he decided to replace the longest serving trustee at the time and he made no indication of who he was looking at to replace the wife of former state Sen. John Maitland, R-Bloomington.

Eight months later, the seat is still sitting vacant.

Local officials are puzzled.

“It doesn’t make any rhyme or reason to me,” said state Rep. Dan Brady, R-Bloomington.

State Sen. Jason Barickman, R-Bloomington, said he hadn’t gotten a clear signal from Quinn on the vacancy either.

Quinn spokesman Dave Blanchette said staffers are continuing to vet applicants. A name could be floated “soon,” he added.

If the seat is ever filled, Brady would like to see Quinn name somebody from the Bloomington-Normal community.

FUNDRAISING NEWS

State Rep. Adam Brown, R-Champaign, has a new role: He recently took over as chairman of the Illinois House Victory Fund, one of several fundraising committees for the House Republican caucus.

Previously, the position was held by former House Minority Leader Tom Cross, R-Oswego, who is now running for state treasurer.

The purpose of the committee is to help elect Republicans to the House, where Democrats hold a virtually insurmountable 71-47 advantage going into the 2014 election season.

If he wants the fund to have any impact on any of the myriad races set to get underway, Brown will have to get busy. As of this week, the committee only reported having about $1,174.

MORE FUNDRAISING NEWS

Former Miss America Erika Harold, an Urbana attorney who is challenging incumbent U.S. Rep. Rodney Davis, of Taylorville, in the 13th Congressional District, recently held a fundraiser in Washington, D.C.

Harold has been criticized by some members of her own Republican party for challenging a sitting incumbent in a district targeted for takeover by Democrats.

With the help of retired U.S. Rep. Tim Johnson’s former team, Harold has rebuffed those complaints and has soldiered on with her campaign.

The fundraiser in the nation’s capital was at a lobbying firm. Hopefully Harold was able to have a conversation with one member of the host committee, former U.S. Rep. J.D. Hayworth, of Arizona.

Hayworth has some experience in taking on an incumbent politician. In 2010, he ran for the U.S. Senate.

After receiving just 32 percent of the vote against some guy named John McCain, maybe he could tell Harold what not to do.

The opinions are the writer's. Kurt Erickson is the Lee Springfield bureau chief. He can be reached at kurt.erickson@lee.net or (217) 782-4043.

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