Democrat: Ill. comptroller to challenge governor

Saturday, July 25, 2009
In this Dec. 12 photo, Illinois Comptroller Dan Hynes is seen in his downtown Chicago office. Hynes is planning to run for governor according to a person close to Hynes' campaign. (Associated Press file)

CHICAGO -- Illinois Comptroller Dan Hynes plans to run for governor, a Democrat close to the Hynes campaign told The Associated Press on Friday, setting up a Democratic primary fight with rookie Gov. Pat Quinn.

A three-term comptroller whose job it is to pay the state's bills, the 41-year-old Hynes ran unsuccessfully in 2004 for the Democratic nomination to the U.S. Senate seat President Barack Obama ultimately won.

The Democrat who spoke with the AP has knowledge of Hynes' plans but spoke on the condition of anonymity because an official announcement won't be made for a few weeks.

Hynes has given some clues about what a campaign against Quinn might look like because he wasn't shy about criticizing the governor's handling of the state's budget crisis.

He accused Quinn of being inconsistent in his demand for a large tax increase and questioned whether Quinn had looked closely enough at state spending to see where more cuts could be made. He also chastised Quinn for inciting "fear and panic" by threatening massive cuts to vital state services that never materialized.

Gov. Pat Quinn

It's a budget mess Quinn inherited when he became governor in January following the impeachment and removal from office of Rod Blagojevich, who's charged with federal corruption.

Quinn took some political lumps in the budget battle because he was unable to persuade lawmakers to pass the income tax increase he wanted to create more revenue. He ultimately had to settle for a patchwork budget that will mean job and program cuts.

Quinn, who hasn't officially announced his re-election plans but has indicated he would run for a full term, defended himself Friday against would-be challengers.

"When you get in the arena, you've got to make decisions. You can't stand on the side of the road and not take part in tough battles. You can't be a no-show. You can't just show up and say, 'Hey, I want to be elected to something,"' Quinn said.

Quinn was spared a primary challenge from another top Illinois Democrat when Attorney General Lisa Madigan took a pass on running for governor. Madigan, who had considered a run for either governor or U.S. Senate, announced earlier this month that she would instead seek a third term in her current job.

Hynes would enter the race for governor with a cash lead over other Democrats. He had more than $3.5 million in his campaign account as of June 30 compared to Quinn, who had just $702,000, according to the latest campaign reports filed with the Illinois State Board of Elections.

In an e-mail Friday, Hynes asked donors to contribute as much as $1,000 to his campaign. A third potential Democratic contender, state Rep. Jack Franks of Marengo, had $458,000 available in his campaign fund.

The Republican primary field for governor looks to be a crowded one. A half dozen people have either declared or are considering a run, including state Sens. Bill Brady, Kirk Dillard and Matt Murphy. There's also DuPage County Board Chairman Bob Schillerstrom, public relations consultant Dan Proft and businessman Adam Andrzejewski.

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