A State Journal-Register analysis of Gov. Pat Quinn’s public campaign and government schedules since the Illinois State Fair shows that he spends most of his time in Chicago and its suburbs, while the Republican state Sen. Bill Brady has spent most of his time campaigning close to home in central or southern Illinois.
After a debate earlier this month in Chicago, Democratic Gov. Pat Quinn said it’s clear he lives in Springfield because he keeps his underwear in the governor’s mansion.
Hopefully, he packed a lot of it when he left for the campaign.
A State Journal-Register analysis of Quinn’s public campaign and government schedules since the Illinois State Fair shows that Quinn spends most of his time in Chicago and its suburbs, leaving the vote-hustling downstate to running mate Sheila Simon, who is on leave from her job as a law professor at Southern Illinois University.
Meanwhile, the Republican nominee, state Sen. Bill Brady of Bloomington, has spent most of his time in that same period campaigning close to home in central or southern Illinois rather than vote-rich northeastern Illinois, where two-thirds of the state’s population resides.
Of the 141 public appearances Quinn has listed on his schedule between Governor’s Day at the Illinois State Fair and Friday, 95 — or two out of every three — have been in Chicago or the suburbs. Of the 75 public events listed on Simon’s campaign schedule, 46 have been downstate.
Of the 75 public appearances Brady has listed on his schedule since Republican Day at the fair, 61 have been downstate.
Polls in the race have shown Quinn trailing Brady badly downstate. A recent St. Louis Post-Dispatch/KMOV-TV poll, done by Mason-Dixon from Oct. 18 through Oct. 20, showed Brady leading Quinn 56 percent to 31 percent in northwestern Illinois, 63 percent to 23 percent in central Illinois and 53 percent to 31 percent in southern Illinois. Quinn led Brady 53 percent to 30 percent in Cook County. The overall poll showed Brady leading Quinn 44 percent to 40 percent.
Quinn said he believes he is spending enough time downstate.
“I was downstate last week, and I’ll be downstate this week, and I’ll be downstate the week after,” Quinn said after a recent debate at Elmhurst College. “I used to live downstate. I lived in East St. Louis, and I lived in Edwardsville. I’ve lived in Springfield.
“I live in Springfield now part time, at least as far as the governor’s mansion goes, but I haven’t been able to go there because I’m on the campaign trail so much. I will spend plenty of time downstate, and I think we’ll do very well.”
Brady’s campaign said he has spent more time in the Chicago area at private events, such as fundraisers and association board meetings, than his public schedule reveals. Brady plans to spend a lot of time in northeast Illinois in the campaign’s final days, said spokeswoman Patty Schuh.
“In recent weeks, he has been from Cairo to Galena and dozens of stops in between,” Schuh said. “He does spend a great deal of time as well in Chicago and the suburban area. He has visited in people’s homes, walked in parades and hosted town hall meetings in communities all over Illinois.”
Schuh said the time Brady spent in central and southern Illinois is needed to energize downstate voters and as a counterbalance to expected turnout for the Democrats in Chicago.
Surprisingly, both candidates have spent little time in the five suburban Chicago collar counties where statewide elections are often decided. The St. Louis Post-Dispatch/KMOV-TV poll showed a tighter race there, with Brady leading Quinn 45 percent to 39 percent.
Forty-two percent of the state’s population lives in the suburbs, while 23 percent lives in Chicago and 35 percent lives downstate.
Since the state fair, Quinn has made 23 public appearances in the suburbs while Brady has made six announced appearances. Judging from his Twitter feed, Brady’s running mate, Jason Plummer, has picked up some of the slack in the suburbs, making 14 out of 46 appearances there that were announced by the campaign or by Plummer on Twitter.
Kent Redfield, an emeritus professor of political science at the University of Illinois Springfield, said it’s surprising that the candidates haven’t spent more time in the suburbs but added that getting free media coverage there can be difficult.
“By it’s very nature, you’ve got a lot of different towns and places. There’s no kind of center,” Redfield said of campaigning in the suburbs. “When you’re in (Chicago’s) Loop, you’re in the middle of where the media is.
“I assume that the Brady campaign assumes their paid media is creating awareness” in the suburbs, Redfield added. “It’s harder to get the earned media in the suburbs than it is downstate, where for Brady, there’s less competition, and he’s kind of a native son. Downstate, it’s a much bigger deal for them to be in Springfield or Champaign or Effingham.”
Simon’s campaigning isn’t limited to larger downstate cities. She’s shown up in places many Illinoisans would have to use Google maps to find, including Robinson, Bement, Sullivan and Mount Carmel.
“We try to make sure we’re split up all the time,” Simon said. “He (Quinn) spends more time in places with a larger population. I spent time in tiny places that don’t get a lot of attention from statewide candidates.”
Asked whether the Quinn campaign’s strategy was to use her to bolster the ticket’s showing close to home, where the Simon family name is associated with her late father, U.S. Sen. Paul Simon, Simon said, “It might be a laundry strategy.”
Chris Wetterich can be reached at 788-1523.
Where they’ve campaigned
The number of campaign events for each candidate in the state’s various geographic locations from the State Fair until Friday.Brady Quinn Simon Plummer Chicago 8 72 15 1 Chicago suburbs 6 23 14 15 Metro East 3 6 2 5 Central Illinois 22 20 27 14 Northwestern Illinois 6 7 1 5 Western Illinois 3 1 3 3 Eastern Illinois 6 0 0 1 Southern Illinois 21 12 13 2
Central Illinois includes Springfield, Decatur, Champaign, Peoria
Northwestern Illinois includes Rockford and the Quad Cities
Western Illinois includes Quincy, Macomb
Eastern Illinois includes Danville, Charleston, Kanakee
Southern Illinois includes Carbondale, Marion, Centralia
Quinn criticized for timing of 'goodies' announcements
Gov. Pat Quinn has been spending a lot of time lately announcing state spending — the kind of spending political candidates hope voters will reward Nov. 2.
Quinn’s official government schedule has listed 89 events since Governor’s Day at the Illinois State Fair, compared with 52 campaign events. At 37 of the 89 government events, Quinn has announced hundreds of millions of dollars in government spending, much of it from release of construction funds through the state’s $31 billion capital bill. The bill was approved in 2009.
The campaign of Quinn’s Republican opponent, state Sen. Bill Brady, criticized the governor for waiting until the election to release money for the government-funded goodies.
“Governor Quinn has delayed full implementation of the law, resulting in construction delays and continued backlogs. He is only now releasing project funding — 17 months later — just weeks before the election,” Brady spokeswoman Patty Schuh said. “Many people believe it to be just another example of Governor Quinn putting his own personal interests above those of the citizens.”
But Schuh emphasized that Brady supports the projects, which are needed to bolster Illinois’ infrastructure.
Quinn defended the timing in an interview with The State Journal-Register editorial board Thursday.
“I’m governor all the time, seven days a week,” Quinn said. “First of all, I got the financing for it. The guy I’m running against, he goes to the events up in Bloomington for the train station there, spending, cutting a ribbon, but he didn’t vote for the funding (in the Senate). You can’t be governor if you’re doing that. You have to have the fortitude to get the funding for the bonds.”
Brady opposed funding the projects with the legalization of video gaming because it is an unsustainable revenue source, Schuh said.
Quinn said that he goes to some events to welcome companies to Illinois that are receiving state assistance and creating jobs, such as $12 million he announced Wednesday in Rochelle for Nippon Sharyo USA. The firm will build a facility to manufacture railroad cars. The project brings $35 million in private investment and will retain 15 jobs and create 250 others. The company’s U.S. headquarters will be relocated to Rochelle.
“The leaders of the company came from Japan. ... The governor should show up, shake their hands, there’s certain cultural things, bow. We had a groundbreaking of something that’s going to create jobs, not just today, but for years to come,” Quinn said. “You better show up. ... We want to keep them here in Illinois. We don’t want them to go off someplace else.”
Kent Redfield, emeritus professor of political science at the University of Illinois Springfield, said such events are not unusual for incumbents seeking re-election.
“One of the thing incumbents do ... is to use their office, and their official duties and respond in ways that promote their campaigns,” Redfield said. “Presidents cut ribbons. Governors cut ribbons. There’s no downside to building a public building or fixing a road. It’s all positive stuff.”
In Quinn’s case, Redfield said, he’s behind compared to the average incumbent.
“Quinn isn’t a typical incumbent. A typical incumbent, if they do this right, they do it for four years. Then he’s no longer a candidate, he’s our governor. This (the capital bill) is tailor-made for that sort of thing. He’s taking as much advantage as he can.”
Announcing projects and ribbon cuttings isn’t necessarily a bad thing, Redfield said.
“We had enough problems with people distrustful of government,” he added. “I think it is a good thing to reinforce in the public’s mind that government does serve a purpose.”