Sure his appointment is political, but Dr. David Gill's decision to forgo another run for office and accept a top post in the state's public health department is not the outrage some Republicans claim.
Illinois Democrats found a clever way to narrow, if not clear, the field for their preferred congressional candidate. Now some state Senate Republicans want to shed some public light on the maneuver, all the while professing outrage over having discovered politics involved in politics.
It makes for some good theater, but not much else, especially while the state of Illinois burns down around us.
Dr. David Gill, a Bloomington physician who has run repeatedly and lost, was contemplating another run for the U.S. House of Representatives, a move contemplated with horror by establishment Democrats. To lure Gill away from this unpromising possibility, Democratic power-brokers arranged for Gov. Pat Quinn to offer Gill the position of assistant director in the Illinois Department of Health.
Gill accepted, Democrats breathed a sigh of relief, and Democrat Ann Callis, a former judge and the preferred choice of the big-shots, announced she's running for the U.S. House against incumbent Republican U.S. Rep. Rodney Davis.
The timing was ham-handed, at best, but that's how things get done in Illinois.
It's pretty clear that Dr. Gill is itching to serve in some kind of public capacity. He's a decent, honorable man and probably well-qualified for his new job, a rare event in patronage politics. Republicans thought they could make some political hay at Gill's confirmation hearing, questioning him about the timing of the job offer and perhaps drawing an admission that he abandoned another run for the U.S. House when he was offered a job by Quinn.
Would that shock anyone?
Unfortunately for them, Republicans' attempts to politicize the issue were stymied when Senate President John Cullerton, a Chicago Democrat, politicized the matter further by not scheduling a confirmation hearing for Gill until perhaps March 2014, when the story will be old and tired. The GOP was foiled, proving once again that it's not easy to be the minority party in Illinois.