Politics

Who is Pat Quinn?

Monday, February 02, 2009
The governor is show in a file photo.

The governor is show in a file photo.

On Thursday, January 29, 2009, Lt. Gov. Pat Quinn was sworn in to replace Rod Blagojevich, who was removed from office.

Quinn's political roots run deep in Illinois. Quinn's priorities have included health care -- protecting the environment and helping members of the military and their families.

Quinn is a 60-year-old divorced father of two. He's a career politician who has won some and lost some races.

One political observer noted that he came into office on Governor Blagojevich's coattails as part of his ticket. Despite their icy relationship, he has now become governor thanks to the Blagojevich's removal from office.

Quinn boarded a small state plane Thursday morning as lieutenant governor, but by the time he landed in Springfield, he expected an imminent promotion to the top job in the state. It would be the pinnacle of a political career that dates back more than 30 years.

"Sign the petition for property tax reform. We need your help," said Quinn in 1989.

Quinn has collected thousands of petition signatures over the years. He has always been known as a grassroots populist politician working to lower taxes and regulate utilities and big business. He was one of the founding fathers of the Citizens' Utility Board 25 years ago.

"Based on his track record I think we're gonna have someone who is dedicated to making government work for the people and trying to get things done that are good for consumers and the little guy," said David Kolata, C.U.B. executive director.

Pat Quinn's first elective office was on the Cook County Board of Tax Appeals. He later served as revenue director for Mayor Harold Washington. He was elected state treasurer in 1991 then ran unsuccessfully for secretary of state against George Ryan and for senate against Dick Durbin. He was elected lieutenant governor in 2002. In that role he has continued to work on consumer issues and has also been a leading supporter of Illinois soldiers and veterans.

"I believe he's attended almost every single funeral of our Iraqi and Afganistan veterans and that just goes to show you the soul of this man," said Roy Dolgos, former IL Veterans Affairs Director.

While he has succeeded in connecting with the people, political scientist Paul Green says Quinn has never been a dynamic speaker or prolific fundraiser.

"His problem has always been and he's never been able to connect all that well with fellow politicians or really being a very effective speaker and rallying people to his cause," said Prof. Paul Green, Roosevelt University.

Quinn comes in with a squeaky clean reputation at a time when the past two governors have faced serious federal charges.

Green said Quinn would probably have had a difficult time being elected governor, but now that he's now in office already, he will have a huge leg up if he decides to run for the office in 2010.

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