Illinois Statehouse News

Quinn abstains from debate, keeps opponent out of spotlight

2014-02-17T00:00:00Z Quinn abstains from debate, keeps opponent out of spotlightKurt Erickson Lee Springfield Bureau nwitimes.com
February 17, 2014 12:00 am  • 

Man up.

That was the message last week from Democratic gubernatorial candidate Tio Hardiman to the guy he wants to beat in March, Pat Quinn.

As reported by Springfield public radio station WUIS, the woefully underfunded anti-violence advocate said Quinn's decision to forgo debates in the run-up to next month's primary is a wussy move.

"Quinn knows that he's been an absolute failure, so show up. Man up," the Hillside Democrat said.

Quinn has some very good reasons to avoid the debate scenario. Agreeing to share a stage with Hardiman would give the virtually unknown candidate some veneer of legitimacy when he's barely been able to raise any campaign cash and was very nearly knocked off the ballot because of problems with his nominating petitions.

This isn't a new or particularly ingenious tactic. Incumbent politicians like U.S. Rep. Rodney Davis, of Taylorville, have similarly decided that debating their opponents — in his case, former Miss America Erika Harold — falls into the same milieu.

Sometimes the best path to victory is to pretend you don't have an opponent.

Plus, Quinn is having more fun creating his own narrative by staying busy doing governor-like things.

On Tuesday, he spent some time hanging out with the governor of the state of Mexico, Eruviel Avila, polishing up his street cred with the Hispanic vote.

On Thursday, Quinn jetted off to California for a meeting on climate change sponsored by the White House.

He even put out a news release announcing that a McLean County highway garage was going to be remodeled. That will get some votes from the pro-salt dome wing of the party.

All of these things are designed to plump up Quinn's resume as he heads down the road toward a showdown against one of four GOP candidates seeking to end his tenure.

-- POLL WATCH

You shouldn't put too much stock in straw polls. After all, wasn't it Michele Bachmann who won the 2011 Iowa straw poll before abandoning her bid for president.

But a straw poll of Republicans taken last weekend at the Lincoln-Reagan Day dinner in McLean County had an interesting outcome.

In the GOP race for governor, state Sen. Kirk Dillard, R-Hinsdale, took the top spot.

The two men in the race who actually have represented McLean County in the General Assembly — Dan Rutherford and Bill Brady — received fewer votes. Wealthy businessman Bruce Rauner brought up the rear.

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

Copyright 2014 nwitimes.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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