Statehouse Insider: Illinois Democrats distance selves from Rod Blagojevich
If nothing else, the ROD BLAGOJEVICH verdict (or lack thereof) gave Democrats a chance to show off their gymnastics skills. They were all going through back flips and other contortions to distance themselves from Blagojevich and anything connected to him.
Gov. PAT QUINN kept saying he pushed a recall amendment and that's proof he wasn't in lock-step with Blagojevich. But when Blagojevich was running for re-election in 2006, Quinn vouched for the then-governor's honesty. He did that because reports were already swirling about federal investigations into the administration. Quinn now says he was misled, but it's obvious neither the news media nor Republicans are going to ignore the quote.
House Speaker MICHAEL MADIGAN, D-Chicago, kept repeating that it was Democrats who impeached Blagojevich and removed him from office. Republicans countered that the impeachment only happened after Blagojevich was arrested, which sort of forced everyone's hands.
Democrats will try mightily to distance themselves from the disgraced Blagojevich, but how many people will buy it has yet to be determined.
The Democrats' worst fear has to be that federal prosecutors start their planned retrial of Blagojevich during the fall campaign season.
On the other hand, pretty much everyone else in the state would probably welcome that. The sooner the retrial starts, the less we'll have to listen to Blagojevich crowing about his claims that he was vindicated.
Republicans can rightly brag about the turnout they had at Republican Day at the state fair this year.
During the past few years, Republican Day has been sparsely attended and the atmosphere has been more suited to the wake of a person not particularly beloved by mourners.
The crowd appeared to be significantly larger this year and more enthusiastic, despite the heat. Plus, the GOP didn't have any national people on hand as an added draw.
The Democrats, meanwhile, looked more like the Republicans of recent years. The crowd on Governor's Day definitely looked smaller this year. It probably wasn't helped by the fact it started way late because a morning event featuring congressman and former comedian AL FRANKEN ran long. Clarification: The morning event with the Democratic County Chairmen's Association ran ridiculously long. What started as breakfast at about 8:30 a.m. ended after noon.
Pity the keynote speaker at the fair event, national Democratic party chairman Gov. TIM KAINE of Virginia. By the time he began speaking a lot of the crowd had departed, including most of the Democratic VIPs on the stage.
But while the gathering at the fair was down, the crowd at the morning event was much bigger than previous years. It wouldn't have anything to do with Franken speaking at the morning event and not at the fairgrounds, would it? Nah.
By the way, Franken did his dead-on impression of the late Sen. PAUL SIMON during his speech. Simon's daughter, SHEILA, now running for lieutenant governor, was right down front at the time. She gave Franken a thumbs up.
U.S. Rep. AARON SCHOCK of Peoria has sometimes gotten as much press for his fashion sense as his politics. Not sure what kind of sense he showed at Republican Day at the fair - fashion or otherwise - when he showed up wearing a tie on a day when the heat index was pushing 100 degrees.
--"There have been reports of our demise that are greatly exaggerated." U.S. Sen. DICK DURBIN speaking before Democrats Wednesday.
--"I'm looking forward to seeing you at the state fair. Let me let you in on a little secret. Next year it's going to be one day earlier." Brady, explaining that he expects to be hosting Governor's Day next year.
--"Our party is diverse. Some of you have teeth, others don't." Rep. DAVID MILLER, D-Lynwood, candidate for comptroller and a dentist.
--"Let's talk about (GOP gubernatorial candidate) Bill Brady's legislative accomplishments over the last 18 years. (Very brief pause). OK, we're done." Senate President JOHN CULLERTON, D-Chicago.
--"We know Bill Brady dislikes taxes so much he didn't pay any last year." Cullerton on a roll.
--"Getting a lecture from Ari Giannoulias on honesty in government is like getting a lecture from DREW PETERSON about domestic violence." Former GOP candidate for governor DAN PROFT comparing Treasurer ALEXI GIANNOULIAS to a man accused of murdering his wife.