I think I wrote the first article at the end of summer, 2003, pointing out how Governor Rod Blagojevich’s moves were setting the stage--programmatically and from a campaign fund raising viewpoint--for a run for the Presidency.
Well, we don’t have to worry about that anymore, do we?Illinois Democrats who supported him in 2002 would pay their own way to campaign against him in Iowa and New Hampshire.
For fund raising, in 2003, I pointed to
· Movie folks;And that was just what I saw through August, 2003.
· SBC, now AT&T (remember how he rolled over and signed—in less than a day--the bill found unconstitutional within, what, two months);
· Electric utilities (Blago appointed ICC commissioners who just allowed them huge rate increases);
· Archers Daniels Midland, which got hundreds of millions of dollars in state subsidies over a 10-year period;
· Service Employees International Union, the governor’s biggest contributor perhaps because, as a congressman, he voted against making the airport screeners (many SEIU members) federal employees.
(I did make one wrong prognostication. I thought the governor’s signing of a bill to end the privatization of the Anna Veterans Home would bring AFCSME into his corner. It obviously wasn't enough.)
Looking at the national constituency building moves, I saw
· Gun lovers (think World Shooting Complex) who live in rural Democratic counties that President George W. Bush carried. I pointed out that no gun legislation had made it to his desk at that point.I concluded my article,
· Immigrants, especially, Latinos. In his first year, Blagojevich signed with great fanfare a bill to allow illegal immigrants to attend state universities at in-state tuition rates. He followed up with home loans to illegal aliens, plus health care for their kids under Kids Care.
· Advocates of the poor. Anybody but me remember his own “poverty programs” in Pembroke Township, where the Governor cancelled the building of a women’s prison, plus in Cairo, Savanna and Aurora? He also signed bills raising the minimum wage and increasing the income under which families could get the same health coverage as state employees to about $30,000—twice the poverty level.
· And, on abortion, Blagojevich staked out a radical position early.
· As he did on homosexual rights, signing one of the most radical laws anywhere.
· On women’s rights, he signed a state equal pay for equal work bill, one of the first in the nation. That is has done virtually nothing is irrelevant. Think of how it would fit into a presidential stump speech.
· “Taxpayers’ friend” was a label he was after, too. The governor repeatedly stated that he would not raise income or sales taxes. And, he hasn’t. He even vetoed two property tax cap “hole-pokers.” Both vetoes were overridden, of course, and he did nothing to stop that, but he sill has bragging rights.
· Good manager. Remember, this article was written at the end of August, 2003, not this year. 2003 was the year when California’s budget has experienced a “melt down,” Illinois legislators got out of session with what purports to be a balanced budget. Blagojevich even “lucked out” on the sale of almost $10 billion in pension bonds by being able to borrow the money for almost 1 percentage point less than he said he expected when the package was sold to the General Assembly. And, he did cut the payroll substantially.
· Corruption Fighter. This is bogus, of course, but, I pointed out that with the expected trials of prominent Republicans, Blagojevich would probably look honest in comparison. I said he wouldn't even have to claim honesty; he could just point to GOP corruption.
· Pioneer in Helping People Get Cheaper Drugs. Drug manufacturers have traditionally supported the Republican Party. During his campaign, Blagojevich adopted State Rep. Jack Franks' proposal to use the state’s bulk purchasing power to get lower prices. Now, it did not work out as he hoped, but he got all sorts of brownie points for initiating the idea (or at least stealing it from Franks). And, he took it one step further by taking on the Federal Drug Administration in his quest to import drugs from Canada’s government-controlled market.
· My 2003 conclusion was Blagojevich was promoting himself as “Not a Traditional Democrat.”
So, what image is Blagojevich preparing to be presented to a national audience?From McHenry County Blog, where the author has a long memory.
It is certainly not one of a traditional “tax and spend” Democrat. While he retains the ability to make traditional appeals to traditional Democratic Party constituencies, Blagojevich is positioning himself to differentiate himself from other Democrats, not to mention tax-hiking Republicans.