So, did the almost-end of this spring’s legislative session have big political overtones when it comes to this fall’s election?

So, did the almost-end of this spring’s legislative session have big political overtones when it comes to this fall’s election?

It depends on who you talk to.

“I really don’t think that was a decisive factor,” Democratic Gov. PAT QUINN said when asked if the lack of a compromise this spring on the giant issue of pension reform was due to the campaign season.

“There may be a legislator here or there who looked at November 6th, but I think most of the legislators of both parties in both houses understood that the pension challenge could not be deferred, and we had to focus in on that to have a better state.”

Of course, a final plan to cut back on future pension obligations — the subject of much angst among current and former public employees — has yet to be crafted. Quinn will meet with legislative leaders and lawmakers will have to return to Springfield to lend their votes to a solution, if it can be worked out.

“I think we’re very, very close,” the governor said.

“I don’t think there’s any advantage either way, politically, from what we’ve done,” Senate President JOHN CULLERTON, D-Chicago, said of the body of legislative work done this spring. “I think we’ve acted very responsibly. We actually had some Republican votes for … parts of our budget.” He said there was bipartisan support also on Medicaid cuts and a Senate version of some pension reform.

But Senate GOP Leader CHRISTINE RADOGNO of Lemont did see an advantage for her party.

  “I think in general, the citizens … are more conservative in terms of how they are viewing spending. And I think that here in Illinois, with 10 years of Democrat control, there may be some party fatigue with how things have been handled. … We will be running our candidates on the record of the Democrats who have controlled everything for 10 years.”

Simon-Plummer rematch?
Could there be a rematch between Lt. Gov. SHEILA SIMON and businessman JASON PLUMMER?

Plummer, of Fairview Heights, the 2010 GOP nominee for lieutenant governor, is now the Republican candidate for the U.S. House in the new 12th Congressional District.

The winner of the Democratic primary in that district, BRAD HARRIMAN of O’Fallon is dropping out of the race because of a worsening neurological condition that he says requires surgery.

Names being bandied about as a possible replacement for Harriman on the ballot include Simon, whose late father, PAUL SIMON, was lieutenant governor, a member of the U.S. House and, later, the U.S. Senate.

Simon told me she knows people have been talking about the idea. But she also said the talk seems to her “way more inflated than it deserves.”

“Just looking at it from the really personal point of view, it’s challenging to be working on a statewide basis,” she added. “It means a lot of time away from my husband. … Thinking about being even farther away doesn’t appeal too much.”

She said she is “very happy as lieutenant governor. I think I’m getting a lot done.”

Cole leaves job with Kirk
Former Carbondale Mayor BRAD COLE recently left his Springfield-based post as downstate director for U.S. Sen. MARK KIRK, R-Ill., to take a job in business.

“It was a great opportunity to open up the office” in Springfield and work for Kirk, Cole told me last week. He called Kirk “a great friend and a mentor.”

But he said he had basically agreed to get things up-and-running for only a year. So he left April 1 to take an offer to be vice president of Pepsi MidAmerica, based in Marion. That company’s chairman and CEO is HARRY L. CRISP II, a former chairman of the Illinois Community College Board and namesake of the Springfield headquarters building of the community college system at 401 E. Capitol Ave. Crisp’s son, LEE CRISP, is president of the company.

“This is just a chance for me to move back to southern Illinois and get a taste of the private sector,” said Cole, 40. He was mayor of Carbondale from 2003 to 2011. Previously, he was deputy chief of staff to Gov. GEORGE RYAN, assistant director of the Southern Illinois University Alumni Association, and a 2010 candidate for the GOP nomination for lieutenant governor.

RANDY POLLARD of Vandalia, outreach coordinator for Kirk, has not had a title change or change in his $65,000 annual salary, but he has been running the Springfield office.
Pollard spoke to the Sangamon County Republican Network at the Sangamo Club on Thursday. He said Kirk, who is on the mend from a stroke, gets daily and weekly reports from his staff and “wants to know everything that’s going on everywhere in the state.”

Pollard said he “kind of thought it was a joke” when he heard Thursday that President BARACK OBAMA was going to call Kirk. That call did come, and Kirk later used Twitter to report that Obama had wished him well.

Pollard, meanwhile, was elected in Springfield last month to his fourth two-year term as president of the Illinois Republican County Chairmen’s Association.

On the other side of the political aisle, ALAN PIRTLE, Monroe County Democratic chairman, was also recently re-elected to run the Illinois Democratic County Chairmen’s Association. He’s held the post since 2008.

Obama names Mayville
TONY MAYVILLE, 56, who has been acting director of the Office of Mines and Minerals in the state’s Department of Natural Resources, was recently appointed by President Obama to be assistant director of mine safety and health administration.

“It’s just a huge honor and a huge responsibility … to try to protect the guys and the gals that go into the mines every day,” Mayville said. “It’s just an amazing honor to even be considered for the job.”

Mayville, who maintains his home in Dubois but now works in Arlington, Va., said he was an underground coal miner for 28 years. He’s also been Washington County Democratic chairman for 21 years, but gave that up to take the federal job. He officially is a deputy assistant secretary in the Department of Labor. His new salary is $150,000, up from $97,368 he was making at the state. He began with the state in 2003.

Taking over as acting director at mines and minerals is MICHAEL WOODS SR., 58, of Tuscola. He’s been with the state since 2004 and is Douglas County Democratic chairman.
“Mike has 30 years-plus experience in underground coal mines and has served as the manager of the office of mines and minerals for the past several years,” said CHRIS McCLOUD, spokesman for DNR. That job has had Woods overseeing state mine inspectors and the Illinois mine safety program.

Woods’ salary stayed level at $89,232, McCloud said.

Bernard Schoenburg is political columnist for The State Journal-Register. He can be reached at 788-1540 or follow him via twitter.com/bschoenburg. His email address is
bernard.schoenburg@sj-r.com.