Democratic Governor Pat Quinn of Illinois is in a fight for his political life as he faces Comptroller Dan Hynes for the party’s nomination. Quinn, who became governor after Rod Blagojevich was impeached and removed from office, is running a state that has serious fiscal problems. In this economy, that is not something that is a rarity, but Illinois is a large state and large states have even bigger budget holes to fill.
The Chicago Tribune polled the race, which is set for February 2, 2010. Governor Quinn leads with 44% support, while Dan Hynes trails by only 4 points at 40% support. There are a large number of voters that are still undecided, leaving the race wide open. If Dan Hynes sounds like a familiar name, it is because he ran against Barack Obama in the Democratic Senate primary in 2004.
The Republicans are also going to the polls on February 2 to determine their candidate for governor. Andy McKenna, the former Republican Party Chairman in Illinois, has a tentative lead of 19% over Jim Ryan, who is staking 18% of the vote. Kirk Dillard, a former judge and current member of the Illinois State Senate, trails with 14% of the vote. Dillard is notable for having supported President Obama during the 2008 presidential campaign, being featured in an ad in Iowa.
With the Blagojevich scandal and budget cuts, one would think that the Republicans would have a decent shot at winning the Governor’s Mansion in Illinois. However, the GOP has an extremely weak bench in the state with zero statewide elected officials and dwindling members in the House. Democrats are looking to pick up Republican Mark Kirk’s House seat, a suburban Chicago district that went for Barack Obama, as he runs for the Senate in 2010. Either Quinn or Hynes would undoubtedly be favorites in the fall against a weak field of Republicans.