Illinois governor puts blame on economy for low approval

Sunday, October 26, 2008

BLUE ISLAND, Ill. -- Gov. Rod Blagojevich was unfazed Friday by tanking poll numbers that show most people don't like the job he's doing.

The Democrat blamed his 13 percent approval rating on the nation's slumping economy and maintained it was unrelated to the federal corruption investigation swirling around his administration.

"I consider that a lucky number," said Blagojevich, who has also taken heat for stalemates in Springfield, Ill., that have largely been the result of Democratic infighting.

Despite his dismal poll numbers, Blagojevich was bullish about his chances for a third term when he talked to reporters after a news conference about providing food for the needy.

"I think I'd win by 10 points or better," Blagojevich said if he were running for governor in the upcoming election.

Blagojevich isn't up for re-election until 2010, and a Chicago Tribune poll this week showed only 10 percent of voters want him to remain in the job. His approval rating is even lower than President Bush's, according to the telephone poll of 500 registered Illinois voters conducted Oct. 16 to 18 by Market Shares Corporation. The error margin was 4.4 percentage points.

"I love the people of Illinois more today than I did before," he said. "If it's a case of unrequited love at this point, I'll just have to work extra hard to get them to love me again."

The governor, who has not been charged with any wrongdoing, continued to deflect questions about the federal investigation looking at how his administration doled out jobs and state contracts.

Blagojevich said it isn't unusual for politicians to be scrutinized, calling it "inevitable occupational hazards." He insists he does things right.

The ongoing federal corruption investigation of Blagojevich's administration has resulted in the conviction of a former top fundraiser, Antoin "Tony" Rezko, who is now cooperating with prosecutors.

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