Quinn tries to distance self from Blagojevich


Gov. Pat Quinn tried to distance himself from his former running mate Tuesday as the federal corruption trial of former Gov. Rod Blagojevich got under way in earnest.

Quinn, twice elected lieutenant governor with Blagojevich heading the ticket, insisted that he broke ranks with Blagojevich in 2007 when he “saw things contrary to the public interest.” Quinn cited Blagojevich’s call for a gross receipts tax on business.

“When things don’t go right, I think it’s important to speak out,” Quinn said. “When I saw things going wrong in the second term early on, I very shortly was banished from the administration. My predecessor said I was not part of the administration.”

Quinn’s relationship with the disgraced former governor will be a major theme in the campaign for governor this fall. Quinn’s Republican opponent, Sen. Bill Brady of Bloomington, issued a statement Tuesday reminding voters of the link.

“We can’t change Illinois by electing politicians like Governor Pat Quinn who publicly stated that Rod Blagojevich -- whom he served alongside -- is an ‘honest’ politician with ‘integrity.’ We need a clean break,” Brady said in the statement.

The federal investigation of the Blagojevich administration was known well before the two ran for re-election in 2006. However, Quinn brushed aside questions Tuesday about why he didn’t speak out earlier.

“When I saw things in 2007 contrary to the public interest, I acted,” Quinn said.

Quinn said he and Blagojevich weren’t really a team anyway.

“The way it works in Illinois, the lieutenant governor gets nominated separately (from the governor),” Quinn said. “I had to win on my own. I’ve always been on my own. I think everyone in Illinois knows that.”