The most formidable Republican candidate for governor, Judy Baar Topinka, is in the running(without yet a formal announcement). This means that she now faces the prospect of a culturally conservative Republican primary electorate in open revolt (perhaps) in March. Fortunately for her, there are several candidates with the conservative label (two senators and the dairy magnate) who will split the vote. (We don't use Irish-style voting in primary elections yet to ensure the winner has the support of a majority of the electorate by holding an instant runoff if not candidate earns more than 50% of the vote. San Francisco is holding an Irish-style vote today for city assessor).
Today, however, I'm intrigued by the only open statewide seat for Democrats: state treasurer.
The last Democrat to hold the seat was Pat Quinn.
The Democratic Central Committee has slated Knox County State's Attorney Paul Mangieri for the slot, believing that it's time a Downstater had some representation on the statewide ticket.
Latinos were a bit unhappy, as they believe it's time for some Latino representation, whether from Chicago or Cairo.
Representative John Fritchey, a potential statewide candidate, blogs here that the calculation to put a Downstater on the ticket should be reconsidered based on Topinka leaving her seat, and now the best candidate, regardless of region, should be selected.
With the office now way in play, it is hard to believe that Paul Mangieri is going to be the best that the Dems put forward. And I mean that with absolutely nothing against Mr. Mangieri, whom I've never met. It's just that I think that in a blue state, with an open statewide seat up for grabs, the race is now begging for somebody with legislative experience and a broader perspective of state issues than one would get in his present position.
Plus, having successfully navigated the med mal bill through the Legislature, the Speaker is likely not as concerned as he once was about the vulnerability of some of his downstate members. As such, the Dems best bet is to put the most qualified candidate forward regardless of geographic or other considerations. And that means that there are now a lot of people that are going to give this race a fresh look.
I think Fritchey is correct, in that the Office of the Treasurer should be a top-tier target for the Democratic Party of Illinois. If Mangieri is the best candidate, great. But I suspect there are probably better candidates, and we should advance our strongest candidate for the race.