Simon won't say
Gov. Pat Quinn is used to being dissed by the press and rival politicians; now he's getting it from his purported partner in politics.
Former President Harry Truman is credited, inaccurately it turns out, with summing up the selfish and self-interested state of politics decades ago by stating that "if you want a friend in Washington, get a dog."
Even if he didn't really say it, the remark says much about the what-have-you-done-for-me-lately approach of many politicians, including Illinois' Lt. Gov. Sheila Simon.
In 2010, Simon was a law professor at Southern Illinois University in Carbondale whose political career was going nowhere. Defeated as a candidate for mayor of Carbondale, Simon was frustrated in her efforts to win public office.
Then, out of the blue, Democrats foolishly nominated Scott Lee Cohen, a political neophyte and embarrassment, in a multicandidate race for the party's nomination for lieutenant governor, a decision that threatened Gov. Pat Quinn's candidacy for the state's top job. Whether by hook or crook, powerful state Democrats, including House Speaker Michael Madigan, forced Cohen to withdraw from the campaign, allowing Quinn to select Simon to be his running mate and, after a narrow victory in the 2010 election, the state's lieutenant governor.
It was a political resurrection of sorts, one that allowed Simon last week to announce that she's using the lieutenant governor's platform to run for comptroller against Republican incumbent Judy Baar Topinka.
But while Simon, the daughter of the late U.S. Sen. Paul Simon, was happy to discuss her comptroller campaign, she had nothing to say about the race for the Democratic Party's nomination for governor. More specifically, Simon declined to express her support for Quinn.
"What I'm doing today is focusing on running for comptroller," said Simon, who said there will be "plenty of time to discuss the politics of it further."
Quinn has a fight on his hands for renomination, facing a challenge from Chicago power-broker William Daley. But if he's expecting any support from his lieutenant governor, it seems he may be disappointed.
The relationships between governors and lieutenant governors in Illinois haven't always been happy. Even if they have mutual interests, they have different priorities. But few lieutenant governors owe more to their running mates than Simon owes Quinn. In the real world, that might count for something. In politics, it's mostly a non-issue.