Sunday, April 24, 2005
Jack Franks for Governor?
I think Russ Stewart went public first in his column linked from the Cross bloggers on the rumor that Jack Franks, a reformer state rep from a very red district, might run for governor in the Democratic primary. I am a big Jack Franks fan, but I am starting to get a little cautious about the electeds I support. I would hate to lose Jack Franks from the House. Check out the bills he filed this year. (when I get to the office, I will make a better link). He has one of the best portfolios of progressive bills of any legislator. (Full disclosure - Jack was the sponsor and driver of the first bill I have ever drafted that got signed into law in 2003 that lets county boards provide cumulative voting rights and I have sent him some very small donations as a token of my appreciation). I can convince myself that Jack would be more open to the swap than Blagojevich, though Jack has always been a reliable no vote on any tax or fee increase. I think he'd run a more transparent, progressive administration than the current one. He's one of the smartest guys in the General Assembly as well. But the Blagojevich political team could find some way to tear into him and Jack is less likely to pull labor away from backing Rod's re-election. I can imagine Rod's team putting a lot of heat on legislators to endorse his re-election campaign early, much like the Hynes for Senate team successfully did, which might hurt Franks' momentum. The lakefront would probably stick with Rod on gay rights (I think the perception is that Rod waited a bit too long to flex some muscle on the gay rights bill, but by late 2004 - I think it was veto session - Rod did come through, especially with Senator Shadid, so his stock is pretty high with gays.) Rod is also doing very well with the pro-choicers, an extremely influential group in the primary, with his innovative rule on pharmacists dispensing emergency contraceptives. Jack's district is pro-life so he has not been anything like a pro-choice leader. Can't you see the mailers on the lakefront now? Guns. Gays. Choice. Jack Franks would turn back the clock. However, the Paul Vallas constituency (defined as mostly independent voters who want an honest, reforming crusader in charge) will like Jack Franks a lot. Jack shares a lot of qualities of Pat Quinn. He is charming, honest, policy-oriented and appeals to independents. One other huge advantage to a Jack Franks campaign for Democrats - and this runs against conventional wisdom, so listen up - if Jack runs and draws 150,000 reformers to the Dem primary, those are 150,000 reformers who will not be voting for a moderate Republican candidate for governor. Just like Corinne Wood's campaign hurt Paul Vallas's campaign, a Jack Franks campaign will hurt a Bill Brady or a Judy Baar Topinka campaign, making a conservative GOP victory in the primary more likely and thus increasing the odds of a Democratic governor winning in November. In that sense, Jack's primary challenge could be the ultimate show of party loyalty.