Big Irony: An indicted or impeached Blagojevich doesn’t help a visionless IL GOP

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The Chicago Tribune editorial this morning says it’s now “more likely that Gov. Rod Blagojevich will be indicted or impeached or both.” Evidently “convicted political fixer Tony Rezko” has talked, and federal prosecutors are saying crimes have occurred at “the highest levels of power in Illinois.”

There’s more. The Trib states that an Illinois appellate court ruling last Friday ordered the governor to stop a health care insurance program that the legislature wouldn’t approve.

“The Illinois secretary of state said the governor had no authority to do that. A legislative rule-making body said he had no authority to do that. But he did it anyway.”

Click here to read the rest. The unpopular Democratic governor that Republicans haven’t been able to use to gain political ground might well be removed from office. The man who will replace him, Lt. Governor Pat Quinn, would take over and it remains to be seen how he’d perform in the top spot. Clearly, though, Quinn is no Blagojevich.

Regardless of whether Quinn experiences a honeymoon with Illinois voters and rises to the occasion, there are several strong Democrats ready to run for governor in 2010. The same can’t be said of the Republican field.

Even if a strong Republican contender did step forward, he or she would be running in a state where people haven’t heard a Republican principle espoused for some time. Our General Assembly GOP caucuses have failed to avail themselves of the opportunities that are always present for the minority party.

Quick, answer me this: What would Illinois Republicans do differently in Illinois if they took over power tomorrow? Few Illinoisans can probably answer that with any specificity. I’m not sure that the average GOP legislator could.

If the Trib is right and Governor Blagojevich’s days are numbered, one of the most historic chances for Republicans to gain ground will have been lost. Rod has been endlessly ridiculed in the press, yet Frank Watson, Tom Cross, and Andy McKenna haven’t been able to capitalize on it.

One of the biggest myths in Illinois politics is that the George Ryan scandal did-in the Republicans. That myth should be destroyed when a Blagojevich scandal doesn’t do-in the Democrats.

Republicans weren’t building during the Jim Edgar/Pate Philip years, so when Democrats took power in 2002 voters didn’t miss the GOP when they were gone from power. Instead of a steady effort to win public support for solutions based on Republican principles, GOP leaders charted a mushy middle course that left voters unclear about why Republicans should win.

Illinois Republicans face doomsday with Barack Obama heading up the Democratic Party ticket. Many fear a veto-proof majority for Democrats in the state house to match the veto-proof majority they have in the state senate.

It’s a good guess that Governor Pat Quinn, or Governor Lisa Madigan, or Governor Dan Hynes will know what to do with those majorities. The only thing that remains to be seen is whether Republicans will learn how to make good use of their minority status. If they’re unsure, they should visit the history books and learn about what happened in Washington, D.C. in 1994.

©2008 John Francis Biver

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