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Politicos jockey for state’s top job

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The Paul Simon Public Policy Institute at Southern Illinois University released a poll Wednesday showing more than half of the respondents saying they disapprove of the job Gov. Pat Quinn is doing.

On the same day, the daughter of the man for whom the institute is named, Sheila Simon, announced she will not run alongside Quinn in the 2014 election.

The lieutenant governor told me she’ll decide in a few weeks or months whether she’s going to run for some other state office. If the news release she later issued held any clues, we’re guessing she’s eyeing the attorney general’s post, currently held by Lisa Madigan.

Which brings us back to the poll.

Among Democrats, nearly 32 percent said they’d vote for Madigan in a theoretical primary race just over a year from now. Quinn would receive about 23 percent, while 11.9 percent would cast their ballot for former White House Chief of Staff Bill Daley, the brother of former Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley.

So, it makes a certain amount of sense that Simon might want to branch out on her own.

Not everyone is convinced it’s a good idea though.

State Sen. Mike Jacobs, D-East Moline, had this to say:

“This is odd. I’ve never seen anything like it. It’s very different, and I’m really surprised. You know, look, her good name helped her get the position she’s in, and I think her good work has kept her there. Now she’s going to go out and test the waters to see if her name that she’s developed is electable, and boy, I’m not yet sure,” Jacobs said Wednesday.

“The Simon name is strong in Illinois, but just because you have a strong name doesn’t make you an electable candidate,” he added.

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RUTHERFORD LEADS GOP: Meanwhile, the poll showed many undecided voters when it comes to the Republican gubernatorial race.

State Treasurer Dan Rutherford of Chenoa was listed as the leader, coming in with 10.2 percent support over his former seatmate in the House, state Sen. Bill Brady of Bloomington, the man who narrowly lost to Quinn in 2010.

Trailing close behind the two central men was U.S. Rep. Aaron Schock of Peoria with 9.1 percent.

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GEARING UP? For Rutherford, it could be just a matter a days before he formally announces he’s in the race to win.

He’s been hinting at it for months, and hiring records show he’s even brought someone on board who knows something about the other potential candidates.

In December, Rutherford hired Dave Carlin in December to serve as an $87,000 per year senior adviser to the treasurer’s chief of staff. The job was not advertised.

“His job is to assist our chief of staff on a litany of budget, programmatic and policy issues pertaining to the Illinois State Treasurer’s Office,” noted spokeswoman Catie Sheehan.

But Carlin’s value to Rutherford may lie elsewhere.

Carlin served as a deputy director of the Illinois Republican Party, spent time as the executive director of the DuPage County GOP, ran for state representative twice and was a key campaign staffer for Kirk Dillard in 2010 when the state senator from Hinsdale barely lost to Brady in the GOP gubernatorial primary.

For the past two years, he served as a staffer to former U.S. Rep. Joe Walsh, who lost his re-election bid and has since been making noise about running for governor.

So why didn’t Carlin stick with Dillard for another run in 2014?

Dillard said Carlin has a third child on the way, and Rutherford was offering a job. Dillard said he just isn’t ready to start hiring people for his campaign yet.

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COMING CLEAN: During his State of the State speech, Quinn mentioned Murphysboro as an example of how he’s helping to improve water systems across the state.

You can imagine how that might have piqued the interest of the leaders in the Southern Illinois community.

After all, Quinn has shuttered a state juvenile prison in the town and then he followed suit by closing an unemployment office there.

As it turns out, the clean water initiative he spoke about doesn’t mean the state is going to pay for a new

$2.5 million water line the city has been planning to build through the center of town.

All it meant is that the state will provide low-interest loans to help pay for the water line.|782-4043


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