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.


Anonymous said...

Huh? Your normally lucid and well-reasoned analysis has eluded you, DJW. You actually think 150,000 independent, progressive voters would pull a Republican ballot but for a Democratic governor's primary? And you actually think with the ethics scandals growing around Rod that they would chose him over Franks?

Franks is no Glen Poshard, my friend. Poshard was decidedly anti-choice and rabidly pro gun. Franks only "failed" litmus test with choice is supporting parental notification (highly popular with soccer moms and Nascar dads). As to guns, Franks supports gun locks and is anti-assault weapons, hardly an NRA darling. Having a complete hostility to guns won't get you elected downstate or in the burbs.

The voting public is a little more sophisticated than you give them credit for - they can understand nuances. And many of those progressives you mention happen to be Jewish, so I doubt they will choose Blagojevich over Franks.

Can Franks win? Who knows? Sometimes a scandal hits at the right time, and the one with the cajones to be there to pick up the pieces is the one who walks away with the prize.

Run Jack Run!

Dan Johnson-Weinberger said...

I think there are 150,000 independent primary voters (not necessarily progressive) who can be lured into either party primary. To quote Lincoln "I put my faith in the ultimate judgment of the people", so I'll reject the premise that I don't give credit to the voting public. If there are any shortcomings in understanding the nuances of Chairman Franks' positions on the social three (gays, guns and abortions), that's my shortcoming. To be fair, though, those positions have not yet been really fleshed out publicly outside of his district. I don't get why Jews wouldn't vote for Blagojevich. But you did nail it at the end -- there's a lot of luck in elections, and fortune favors the bold.

Rich Miller said...

Dan, I wrote about this weeks ago, and I don't think Franks will run. You really need to pony up for a subscription. lol

Dan Johnson-Weinberger said...

Someday, Miller. Someday. (That's another reason I like session days. . . everyone has copies of CapFax in their lobbies)

Anonymous said...

Miller may have written about this weeks ago, but buzz around Springfield is that Franks is still weighing his options and that several influential Democratic leaders are encouraging him to run

Anonymous said...

Franks is having a funder sponsired by Alderman Mell on 6/28. I hope that you attend and see how many "progressives" or "paul vallas" types are in attendance. I respect one's admiration for elected officials, but Franks is clearly acting as Mell's patsy to slap back at Blago. He is abusing his committee chairmanship under the guise of good government and being a reformer. Please tell me that you have the same respect for franks after his 110K night with Mell and his 33rd Ward cronies.