Bernard Schoenburg: Quinn’s gun proposal gets little support
No matter what party they’re from, legislative candidates in central Illinois aren’t joining Democratic Gov. PAT QUINN’s call for a new law to ban manufacture, delivery, sale or possession of a range of assault weapons and attachments.
In the wake of the movie theater shootings in Colorado, Quinn used his amendatory veto power to write the bans into a bill that had merely allowed Illinois companies to join out-of-state companies in being able to ship firearms ammunition to buyers in the state.
ANDY MANAR, chairman of the Macoupin County Board, former chief of staff to Senate President JOHN CULLERTON, D-Chicago, and Democratic candidate for state Senate in the new 48th District, said of the governor of his party: “The manner in which he did it is reminiscent of Governor (ROD) BLAGOJEVICH, because he took a bill that had nothing to do with assault weapons and he amended language onto it.” Manar added that, “Generally speaking, I’m opposed to what the governor wants to do.” He’s also for a law to let citizens carry concealed weapons.
Decatur Mayor MIKE McELROY, the Republican candidate in the 48th, said he doesn’t think the ban Quinn wants would have deterred the shooter in Colorado.
“I’m a gun guy,” McElroy said, and he’d also like Illinois to allow citizens to carry concealed guns.
“I just feel that that is a right that we are given, to protect ourselves,” McElroy said.
SUE SCHERER of Decatur, the Democratic candidate in the new 96th House District — geographically the northern half of the new 48th Senate District and including parts of Decatur and Springfield — said after appearing at a Democratic Party meeting in Springfield Wednesday that she had been “knocking on doors like crazy” and hadn’t heard of Quinn’s action. But she said she favors concealed carry, and later, via email, said Quinn’s amendatory veto “was very opportunistic on his part. I continue to strongly support the Second Amendment.”
DENNIS SHACKELFORD of Rochester, the GOP House candidate in the 96th, also said he didn’t want to see Quinn’s proposal enacted.
“I’m a believer in the Second Amendment and I think it’s a person’s responsibility, and you can’t legislate what people do,” Shackelford said.
Manar was at Springfield’s Dreamland Park last week with members of the Service Employees International Union to announce that he has SEIU backing. That union is also helping Manar with yard signs designed by MEADOW, NATHANIEL and BROOKLYNN SYRCLE — three children of STEPHANIE SYRCLE, an SEIU member who works for the secretary of state in a Decatur license facility.
And Scherer, who missed a public forum in Springfield during her primary campaign because of her job as a first-grade teacher at Maroa-Forsyth Elementary School, will not be teaching this fall as the election approaches. She’s only 55, and said she quit, but has not formally retired.
“I don’t have quite as many years in as I want to get in,” she said, so she could still return to teaching or substituting at some point.
Gill, Johnson visit
DAVID GILL, the Bloomington Democrat now in his fourth try for a U.S. House seat, recently had what he described as a pleasant chat with the incumbent who beat him three times — U.S. Rep. TIM JOHNSON, R-Urbana.
“Mr. Johnson and I sat down and talked policy and politics,” Gill said of the 90-minute meeting a few weeks back at a restaurant in Champaign-Urbana. “We both have substantial respect for each other. We don’t see eye to eye on many issues, but … we both are patriotic.”
Gill lost three elections to Johnson in the existing 15th Congressional District, but now is running in the new 13th, which includes part of Springfield. Johnson also ran in the primary, but then dropped out and the GOP picked RODNEY DAVIS of Taylorville for the Republican slot on the Nov. 6 ballot.
PHIL BLOOMER, spokesman for Johnson, said Johnson has not yet endorsed in the race between Gill, Davis and independent JOHN HARTMAN of Edwardsville.
“He hasn’t had a chance to get to know Rodney very well,” Bloomer said, but “he’s planning on sitting down with him at some point.”
“He’s always been a Republican,” Bloomer said of Johnson. “He’s not going to change.”
Anyone who thinks that bipartisanship is entirely dead should have witnessed the inauguration last week of Illinois Auditor General BILL HOLLAND to his third 10-year-term.
Staged Wednesday in the Senate chamber — where Holland had served as chief of staff to then-Senate President PHIL ROCK, D-Oak Park — the ceremony reflected a lot of cross-party respect.
Comptroller JUDY BAAR TOPINKA, a Republican who as a legislator was on the Legislative Audit Commission that works with Holland, said two decades ago she voted to give him his current constitutional office despite worries that he came from a partisan job. But she said her worries proved unfounded.
“He’s won the respect and admiration of Democrats and Republicans alike because he just doesn’t care about party affiliation,” Topinka said. “He wants to get the job done, period.” She called him “one of the most honest public servants I have ever known,” adding, “I wish we could clone him.”
Holland returned the praise, saying Topinka’s “keen insights over the years have kept all of us who work in and around state government grounded.” He added that she “never burdens us with frivolous self-promotion.”
Senate President Cullerton noted how Holland had “the courage to stand up to wrongdoing,” providing testimony of millions of dollars of unauthorized spending by former Gov. Blagojevich as the Senate prepared to vote to oust him from office.
Holland, 60, of Springfield, who wore a bow tie during his inauguration in honor of his late father, EDWARD, a heavy-construction equipment salesman Holland said was a model of “insightful thinking,” praised his staff in an era where state governments face higher demands with fewer workers. He said he views the office as “an even keel in this vast sea of change.”
And, he told reporters after the ceremony, he’s sensed some movement toward bipartisanship in state government in recent years.
“The removal of the previous governor has taken the edge off a lot of things,” he said.
Asked if Illinois deserves its reputation as a center of corruption, Holland said, “I don’t think so.”
“What people need to appreciate is that Illinois also has a reputation for vetting the bad out,” Holland said. “And when you vet the bad out and you get rid of them, you’re doing your job.”
Bernard Schoenburg is political columnist for The State Journal-Register. He can be reached at 788-1540 or follow him via twitter.com/bschoenburg. His email address is email@example.com.