Obscure candidates in race for lieutenant gov
by RUSS STEWART
Can you say "Governor Sanguinetti"? Or "Governor Rodriguez"? Or even "Governor" Kim, Tracy, Mendoza, Martinez, Gordon-Booth, Raoul, Neely or Clayborne?
One of those obscurities will be Illinois’ next lieutenant governor and, as they say, just a heartbeat, scandal or impeachment away from the governorship.
In Illinois, where five of the past 10 governors have been indicted and four have been jailed, that’s not too farfetched. Being lieutenant governor may not necessarily be a career track, but it’s definitely an opportunity structure.
The Democrats averted a major fiasco in 2010. Big-spending businessman and pawn shop owner Scott Lee Cohen unexpectedly won the lieutenant governor’s primary in a field of six, getting just 26 percent of the vote. Shortly thereafter, reports of domestic violence and drug abuse surfaced, and Democratic power brokers pressured Cohen to resign his nomination, replacing him with Sheila Simon. Had Cohen remained in the race, paired with Pat Quinn for governor, the Quinn-Cohen ticket would have lost.
A Democratic fiasco did occur in 1986. In that year’s primary election, Mark Fairchild, an acolyte of fringe presidential candidate and sometime philosopher Lyndon LaRouche, upset the slated George Sangmeister by a vote of 340,727-317,700. The Democrats’ candidate for governor, Adlai Stevenson, who had lost to Governor Jim Thompson in 1982 by 5,074 votes, thereupon resigned his nomination, formed the Solidarity Party, and got on the ballot as its candidate for governor.
Amid that chaos, Thompson topped Stevenson 1,655,849-1,256,626, winning by a margin of 399,223 votes in a Democratic year. The top of the state Democratic ticket, which consisted of "No Candidate/Mark Fairchild," pulled 208,830 votes, so in reality Thompson won by 191,000 votes. Arguably, a Stevenson-Sangmeister ticket could have won.
To cure that glitch, Democratic legislators passed a law in 2011 which eliminated decoupled primaries for governor and lieutenant governor. No more messiness. Now they’re coupled. A candidate for governor runs with his or her choice for lieutenant governor.
Thus, in the March 18, 2014, primary, it’s two-for-one time. The Republicans can choose among Rauner-Sanguinetti, Brady-Rodriguez, Dillard-Tracy or Rutherford-Kim. On Nov. 8 Governor Quinn will disclose his running mate, who will be either an African American or a Hispanic. Possible linkages are Quinn-Raoul, Quinn-Gordon-Booth, Quinn-Neely, Quinn-Clayborne, Quinn-Martinez and Quinn Mendoza.
Welcome to the new era of tokenism.
Ticket balancing is an ancient American political art, but it used to be restricted to a presidential nominee’s selection of a vice presidential running mate. Geography usually was the deciding factor. Abraham Lincoln of Illinois paired with Hannibal Hamlin of Maine in 1860, William McKinley of Ohio paired with Teddy Roosevelt of New York in 1900, Warren Harding of Ohio paired with Calvin Coolidge of Massachusetts in 1920, and Franklin Roosevelt of New York paired with John Garner of Texas in 1932.
Most famously and recently, John Kennedy of Massachusetts sealed his 1960 presidential bid by picking Lyndon Johnson of Texas. The Kennedy-Johnson ticket won Texas by 46,233 votes and, as a result, the presidency.
However, over the past half-century, more and more states began replicating the national model. Laws were passed pairing governor and lieutenant governor candidates on the primary ticket and in the election. As a result, other factors emerged, such as gender, race, sexual orientation, ideological balance and ethnicity. Consideration of such mundane matters as qualifications, meaning the ability to serve as governor, has become inconsequential.
Unlike U.S. senators, governors usually don’t die in office because they don’t serve long enough and they aren’t elected when they’re pushing geriatric status. Unlike U.S. senators, governors make decisions and are held accountable. Unlike U.S. senators, who can vacillate and equivocate, governors must be forthright. As such, senators usually serve two or three terms, or 12 to 18 years, while governors usually serve 4 to 8 years, and many are term-limited to 8 years.
Hence, if one pursues the lieutenant governorship, one’s fortunes are tied to the top of the ticket. In recent history the governors of Kansas, Idaho and Nebraska were promoted to the cabinet, while the governors of California and Wisconsin were recalled, the latter unsuccessfully. The last governor to die in office was Richard Snelling of Vermont, who was succeeded by none other than Howard Dean in 1991.
That means that, in a coupled situation, a lieutenant governor candidate is either a huge risk taker or a huge nonentity.
There are 45 lieutenant governors, with Maine, Oregon, Wyoming, New Hampshire and Arizona not having such a post and Utah and Tennessee naming their Senate president to the job. Of those 45, 31 are Republicans and 14 are Democrats. Ten are women, of whom seven are Republicans.
All 10 of the women serve with a man as governor, in Alabama, Connecticut, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Minnesota, New Jersey, Ohio, Rhode Island and Wisconsin. Colorado has a Hispanic lieutenant governor, and Maryland has a black lieutenant governor. There are just five states with female governors, Arizona, New Hampshire, New Mexico, Oklahoma and South Carolina; the latter three have male lieutenant governors, all Republicans.
Twenty-three states elect their governor and lieutenant governor as part of a team, as Illinois has done since 1972, and another 18 elect the two posts separately, as Illinois did prior to the 1969 Constitutional Convention. A total of 16 states nominate their governor and lieutenant governor nominees jointly, as Illinois will do in 2014.
Here are the 2014 pairings:
Rauner-Sanguinetti. Investment banker Bruce Rauner, of Cook County, is a multi-millionaire who will self-fund his campaign to the realm of $20 million. He chose Evelyn Sanguinetti, a Wheaton alderman at large, as his running mate. She was being groomed by DuPage County Republicans as a future countywide contender. "She’s the perfect partner to shake up Springfield," Rauner said.
Brady-Rodriguez: State Senator Bill Brady, who lost to Quinn in 2010, is a Downstater from Bloomington whose fiscal and social conservatism doomed his last race. In an effort to broaden his appeal, Brady chose former Long Grove mayor Maria Rodriguez as his running mate. Rodriguez most recently was defeated by Joe Walsh in a 2010 primary for U.S. representative in the 8th District.
Dillard-Tracy: State Senator Kirk Dillard lost the 2010 Republican primary to Brady by 193 votes; he also lost his attempt to be Republican Senate minority leader. For Dillard, it’s up or out in 2014. He’s giving up his Senate seat to run. He chose Jil Tracy, a state representative from Quincy who had announced her retirement, as his running mate. "She’s tested and prepared," Dillard said. She’s also got nothing to lose.
Rutherford-Kim. State Treasurer Dan Rutherford of Pontiac won his post in 2010, but he has not cleared the 2014 field. That attests to his lack of gravitas. He picked Northbrook businessman and lawyer Steve Kim, a Korean American, as his running made. "He will be (Illinois’) business and job czar," Rutherford promised. Kim lost a 2010 bid for attorney general, getting just 32 percent of the vote.
The Republicans’ field for lieutenant governor consists of rookies and losers. The Democrats are little better.
It is undisputed that to win again, Quinn needs a huge minority vote. Therefore, he needs a symbolic minority candidate for lieutenant governor. Ideally, he needs a black female Downstater, which means Jehan Gordon-Booth, a 31-year-old state representative from Peoria.
However, Gordon-Booth is disinclined to risk her House seat to be Quinn’s running mate. She asked for a legal opinion on whether she can run for re-election and lieutenant governor simultaneously. The answer will be negative.
That leaves three other African Americans, Chicago City Treasurer Stephanie Neely, Chicago state Senator Kwame Raoul and East Saint Louis state Senator James Clayborne, and two Hispanics, Chicago state Senator Iris Martinez and Chicago City Clerk Susana Mendoza. For each, it will be no risk. None will have to forfeit their current job if Quinn loses.
None of Illinois’ 46 lieutenant governors has ever won a race for governor directly from the number two spot. Democrat Neil Hartigan and Republican George Ryan moved to another statewide office. Democrat Sherwood Dixon, Republican Corrine Wood and Democrat Paul Simon lost bids for governor, and Republicans Dave O’Neal and Bob Kustra lost bids for senator. Even Democrat Sam Shapiro, who became governor after Otto Kerner was named a federal judge, lost. It’s a dead-end job.
Nevertheless, there were two key primary battles.
In 1976, two women sought the office, both Metropolitan Sanitary District commissioners. Joan Anderson lost the Republican primary 279,087-376,126 to O’Neal, the Saint Clair County sheriff. In the Democratic primary, Joanne Alter, who was backed by Governor Dan Walker, lost to incumbent Hartigan 436,322-857,910. Had either won, they would have been on track to be elected governor.
In 1982 Ryan got on the governor’s track. In a tempestuous Republican primary, Ryan, then the Illinois House speaker, faced state Senator Don Totten and state Representative Susan Catania. Totten has been Ronald Reagan’s 1980 Illinois campaign chairman, and he had major conservative backing; Thompson surreptitiously supported Ryan. The result wasn’t even close. Ryan won 278,544-188,220-152,356, getting 44.9 percent of the vote, with Totten a poor third.
During a late 1960s debate over a U.S. Supreme Court nominee, a Nebraska senator said that "mediocre" people deserve a chance. In Illinois, the get their chance — as lieutenant governor.
Send e-mail to russ@russstewart. com or visit his Web site at www. russstewart.com.