Where are the women in the Illinois governor’s race?

City Club of Chicago Susana A. Mendoza
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March 20, 2017
NPR Illinois Susana A. Mendoza
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June 3, 2017

Where are the women in the Illinois governor’s race?

Crain's Chicago Business Susana A. Mendoza

Crain’s Chicago Business Newspaper | Miller, R. —

Shortly after Donald Trump was elected, political types said women were coming out of the woodwork wanting to run for office.

A pro bono consulting group popped up in Illinois in November called Rodham Consulting, a nod to presidential candidate Hillary Clinton’s family name. Political professionals wanted to lend their advice and assistance to those newly energized women. Within just a few days, 122 potential candidates, advisers and others had signed up to participate.

Millions of women marched in Washington and other cities after Trump was inaugurated. The Chicago march was so large that police shut it down. There was clearly something new in the air.

But here we are in late March, and no Illinois women have yet come forward to say they definitely want to run for governor against Republican Bruce Rauner.

Democratic U.S. Rep. Cheri Bustos, a moderate downstater, for a while talked about running but ultimately decided to stay in Congress.

Democratic U.S. Rep. Robin Kelly of south suburban Matteson floated her name months ago, but most observers figure she’ll stick with her super safe congressional seat.

Colleagues of state Sen. Heather Steans (D-Chicago) have long believed she might run for governor. She has the policy chops for the job and she’s also a strong fundraiser. But Steans is supporting J.B. Pritzker’s Democratic gubernatorial bid.

So, as Women’s History Month winds down and Trump’s unpopularity ratchets up, the list of announced or almost announced Democratic candidates for governor includes five people, all men: Pritzker; Chris Kennedy, the son of slain presidential candidate Bobby Kennedy; Chicago Ald. Ameya Pawar; state Sen. Daniel Biss of Evanston and Madison County Regional Superintendent of Schools Bob Daiber.

If she hadn’t just won a statewide race last year, Illinois Comptroller Susana Mendoza might be considered a possible candidate. She appears to have more spark in her little finger than all those male candidates have in their entire bodies combined.

Then again, if she hadn’t won last year, most wouldn’t have known that Mendoza is so fiery and has an uncanny ability to get under Rauner’s skin.

It has to bother Rauner that his usual Springfield playbook hasn’t yet worked on Mendoza. He’s demanded that she do things like pay bills out of certain state funds, and she’s replied that only her mother gets to tell her what to do.

Rauner has tried over and over to claim that Mendoza is controlled by House Speaker Michael Madigan in a plot to shut down the government. Mendoza gamely retorted that the governor suffers from “Rauneritis,” which she described as the inability to accept responsibility for any of the problems he’s created, including the budget crisis.

Mendoza has used her media attention to hammer Rauner for failing to propose a balanced state budget as required by the Illinois Constitution. She joked at a recent City Club address that she’d directed her staff to come up with a list of the governor’s accomplishments, then held up a piece of paper that contained the phrase “This page intentionally left blank.”

Mendoza’s City Club speech was so sharply delivered that it got some people talking about whether she might be angling for the governor’s job. I doubt it. Like I said, she just won a race for comptroller. Plus, she’s getting so partisan now that it may very well start to make people weary.

But the Democrats do need someone to fire up their base (including women and minorities) the way Mendoza does. Money, family history and voting for and supporting progressive causes may not be enough against Rauner’s super sharp elbows and limitless campaign cash.


View the article: Miller, R. (2017, March 24). Where are the women in the Illinois governor’s race?. Chicago Business. Retrieved from www.chicagobusiness.com.

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