Sniping starts early in Illinois governor's race

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

CHICAGO -- The governor's race is barely underway, but the name-calling and finger-pointing are in full swing on the Democrats' side.

Gov. Pat Quinn and Comptroller Dan Hynes are duking it out months ahead of the February Democratic primary.

Quinn has called Hynes an "ankle-biter," accused him of sitting on the "sidelines" and chastised him for trying to "deceive" voters.

Hynes has swiped at Quinn's tax proposal, criticized him for having "no plan" in a worsening budget crisis and sent him a dozen 2009 wall calendars so he won't be stuck in the past.

The two also have dueling TV ads touting their tax plans.

Robert Rich, the director of the University of Illinois' Institute of Government and Public Affairs, said the back and forth could backfire and be a turnoff to voters.

Meanwhile, Quinn is getting re-election support from a fellow Democrat in the congressional delegation.

U.S. Rep. Phil Hare endorsed Quinn at a union hall in Springfield on Monday. The Rock Island Democrat said Quinn was handed "a mess" when he took over from Rod Blagojevich in January.

Hare said Quinn has taken bold stands on the budget crisis, ethics reform and a stalled capital construction plan.

Quinn was unsuccessful in getting approval for an income tax increase last spring to handle the budget crisis, and vetoed an ethics bill he says could be stronger. He did get approval for a $30 billion capital construction program.

On the Republican side, former governor Jim Edgar said Republican Kirk Dillard has the experience, knowledge and cooperative nature necessary to be governor in a tough financial time.

Edgar, governor from 1991 to 1999, endorsed his former chief of staff. Dillard is now a state senator from Hinsdale seeking the GOP nomination for the top job against at least five other candidates.

Edgar said Dillard was "my right-hand man" in 1991 when he took office and faced a huge budget deficit like the state does now. He said Dillard can cooperate with Democrats to make tough decisions such as cutting spending before raising taxes.

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