Monday, March 21, 2005

Judy Baar Topinka is aiming for the mansion

Lynn Sweet breaks another big story with her piece here in today's Sun-Times on Judy Baar Topinka's plans to run for governor. (It's not quite a breaking story, but this seems like the first big media piece that says Topinka is definitely planning to run. And Sweet breaks the story by accidentally running into JBT's main staffer Nancy Kimme outside of Speaker Hastert's office. That's good journalism.)

Anyway, I think Judy Baar Topinka is, by far, the most formidable challenge to Rod Blagojevich in the state. Remember, Bobby Rush endorsed her over Tom Dart for State Treasurer in 2002, proving she has a lot of crossover appeal (and yes, I know that Dart backed Obama in 2000 when Obama ran against Rush for Congress, but still, a Dem ward committeeman endorsing a Republican statewide is a big deal, and wouldn't be considered without strong appeal by Topinka).

I think the biggest liability that Blagojevich faces among liberals is the perception that Topinka is more likely to back raising the income tax from 3% to 4% than Blagojevich. A 4% or 5% state income tax is long overdue (the main reason why poor Illinois kids have below-average schools), and most civic people believe that. Governor Blagojevich's 2002 campaign platform centered in part on not raising the 3% income tax. But he does not need to center his 2006 campaign around the same bad policy. Neither does Judy Baar Topinka. I believe that there's a swing voter constituency (maybe 2 or 3 or 4 percent of the electorate) that will back the candidate that is perceived to be more open to a 4 or 5 percent state income tax. So if Blagojevich campaigns on promises not to raise the 3 percent income tax to 4% or 5% in his next term, then I think he is potentially in some trouble.

The truest part of Sweet's article was this nugget:

*Blagojevich is popular with women, especially those who are more than 60 years old.

Older women love this guy! My favorite line from the '02 primary was a heavier woman with a nice Bridgeport accent in her fifties with a Rod button on. I asked her why she supported him and her answer was: "He's young, he's good-looking, he wasn't rich when he started and he's rich now." What are you going to say to that?


So-Called Austin Mayor said...


A Blago v. JBT match-up would pit someone with whom I agree on many issues but who does not act on those beliefs against someone with whom I agree on fewer issues but who seems more likely to act on those beliefs.

The question would be: Which of those candidates is more likely to act in accord with my beliefs.

And it seems to me that a strong candidacy by JBT would shore-up the moderate-liberal wing of the IL-GOP and that could only work to the advantage of those of us who believe that government can and should be used for good.

Keep up the good work.

Rich Miller said...

You did it again. I had this poll in my Sunday column.

Dan Johnson-Weinberger said...

Sorry Rich -- I read your column online in the Daily Southtown and that one was on the rise and fall and rise of Dan Hynes. Some newspaper ought to hire you. . . .(and you were dining with some beautiful people as well last time I saw you)

Anonymous said...

Did you steal this idea from Cap Fax???

BTW, you are the first political consultant that ever suggested raising taxes is the way to win an election. NICE!

Rich Miller said...

They didn't post the new column online for some reason. Happens ccasionally.

And I don't want to be hired by anyone.

Anonymous said...

It's all quid pro quo ... Topinka favored Rush in 00 and provided field/worker support. Rush endorsed her in 02 and, in return, Topinka hired his wife ...

Ralph said...

Next week on Capitol Fax: Topinka's secret Black Panther connections.

That should help her in the primary.

Rich Miller said...

I didn' think they were a secret, Ralph.