Time to use that bully pulpit, Governor

The Madison County Record Apr. 10, 2005, 3:31am

Hey Governor, remember us?

It's Southern Illinois calling. You remember. Congressman Costello's guys-- the ones with the Cardinals hats who came through for you way back when.

You were flailing in that upstart 2002 campaign for Governor. Nobody could pronounce your name and your well-coiffed shtick was getting lost in the crowd.

Chicago schools chief Paul Vallas was the "ideas guy" and everyone’s odds-on favorite. It looked like "Rod" wouldn't even carry his home county. (He didn't).

The road from your father-in-law’s 32nd Ward to the Springfield mansion seemed too far, that is, until we southerners helped your campaign brace itself. We figured out how to pronounce that name (some of us with a drawl) and gave your run credibility.

And on primary election eve, when it looked like Mr. Vallas would run away with the Democrat nomination, Southern Illinois rallied Blagojevich for Governor and put you over the top.

Maybe we should be more specific.

Statewide, you won that 2002 Democrat primary with 37% to Vallas' 34% and Roland Burris' 29%. But in the 34 Illinois counties south of I-70 (that's us!), you pulled 58% of the vote, more than both of your opponents combined.

And Metro East led the way. You won a whopping 69% in Madison County as local Democrats coughed up nearly 18,000 Blagojevich votes, second only to Cook, the largest Democrat vote producing county in the U.S.

Oh… campaign memories.

Anyway, we're calling to ask a favor.

You’ve been talking tough about tort reform for some time. That’s music to our ears. The civil justice crisis in Southern Illinois couldn’t be more serious; doctors are leaving, jobs aren’t coming.

This is an issue that really hits home—- our home.

Problem is, the clamor from yours—- Chicago—- hasn’t been so deafening. And that’s the rub, because Illinois' power these days resides in the Windy City.

House Speaker Michael Madigan (D-Chicago) and Senate President Emil Jones, Jr. (D-Chicago) are standing in the way of tort reform because their biggest backers, the Illinois trial lawyers, are against it. Hey-- we never thought they'd be for it anyway and we understand. You dance with those who brung ya.

But here’s where you come in.

If you really believe what you say, if you really believe that Illinois needs to reform its courts, then it’s time for Governor Blagojevich to use his bully pulpit.

Use your leverage. Do your best Arnold imitation. Take a risk. Take Madigan and Jones on-- and do it for the people who elected you.

No, you don’t “owe” tort reform to Southern Illinois because its voters brought you to the pinnacle of state politics. But you do owe it the leadership you promised.

Leadership, Governor, not platitudes and excuses. You can do it-- and it's about time.

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