IL-GOV: Hynes Is In?

Illinois Comptroller Dan Hynes has raised lots of money for something and that something increasingly looks like a campaign for governor against fellow Democrat Pat ...
by | July 27, 2009

Illinois Comptroller Dan Hynes has raised lots of money for something and that something increasingly looks like a campaign for governor against fellow Democrat Pat Quinn. The Chicago Tribune has details:

Three-term state Comptroller Dan Hynes has told top Democrats that he intends to seek the party's nomination for governor, setting up a February primary challenge to Gov. Pat Quinn, sources familiar with Hynes' conversations said Thursday.

Hynes would become the first major Democratic opponent for Quinn, who has not formally announced an election bid but has said he plans to seek the office. Quinn was elevated to the governor's office in January following the arrest, impeachment and ouster of his disgraced predecessor, Rod Blagojevich.

Attorney General Lisa Madigan, another Illinois Democrat interested in being governor, calculated that the time was wrong for her to run. In contrast, Hynes seems to think he has an opportunity here -- and, I can see why.

Quinn is a weak fundraiser and a long-time outsider who may struggle to rally the Illinois Democratic establishment. The fiscal choices he faces in the coming months likely will prove challenging.

The Republicans have an undistinguished field of candidates. If Hynes can just knock off Quinn, he'll be a favorite to win the general election.

Hynes is only 41, but it feels as though he has been around forever. The son of a prominent Chicago politician, Hynes was first elected comptroller in 1998 and was reelected in 2002 and 2006. He likely thinks that his career has stalled a bit and that it is time for a bold move.

Hynes has run for higher office before. He was a candidate in the Democratic primary for U.S. Senate in 2004. That was the election where Blair Hull spent millions of dollars of his own money, only to see his campaign implode amid allegations of domestic violence. That also was the campaign when Illinois State Sen. Barack Obama won the Democratic nomination.

During the presidential campaign last year, many people wondered how history would have been different had the allegations against Hull never surfaced. They generally overlooked Hynes' presence in the campaign, however. In the end, Hynes placed a distant second, as Obama more than doubled the vote total of the only candidate in the race who had won statewide.

That wasn't an auspicious debut in big-time politics for the comptroller. In retrospect, though, you'd have to say Hynes faces weaker competition this time around.

Josh Goodman
Josh Goodman  |  Former Staff Writer
mailbox@governing.com

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