Editor's note: A Record reporter stopped by State Senate Minority Leader Frank Watson's Greenville office to discuss current events. Here's what he had to say:
Q: What's your reaction to Governor Blagojevich's allocation of $10 million for stem cell research?
A: First of all there is limited support for embryonic stem cell research. The legislature said no, yet the governor establishes this research in Illinois for stem cell research. It's a slap in the face.
There are three branches of government for a reason. It's not a dictatorship.
It's also a budget issue. The governor took $1.2 billion out of pensions. As far as spending is concerned, is this going to be annual?
There are moral issues of stem cell, aborted (fetuses), cloning concerns. There was a bipartisan effort against it.
Q: What do you make of the governor's $3 million support for a minor league baseball team initiative in Marion? (Governor Blagojevich has pledged state funds for Metro-East plaintiff's attorney John Simmons--a hefty Democratic Party contributor--to build a baseball stadium for a start-up minor league team).
A: It's pay to play. Obviously, John Simmons has been a party regular supporter for a long time.
There's no team.
Q: Does the governor ever call you?
A: Not recently.
Q: What's it like when he does?
A: Contentious. But when we talk, we talk a lot outside government and politics. About sports.
Our philosophical views, we differ drastically. He thinks I'm an angry person. That bothers me.
Q: You're just passionate about your views, right?
A: I am. The problem the governor has is that he's not focused on the job of being governor.
Q: Do you like being senate leader?
A: Very much. I like dealing with my adversaries and dealing with my caucus.
There was a trial time at first, but I believe it has worked out well.
Q: Tell us about your targets in the '06 election?
A: There are six opportunities that we'll go after aggressively. We'll talk about the outrageous budget that's totally irresponsible.
The 49th District (Sen Deanne DeMuzio, D-Carlinville) is one downstate, some in the suburbs. We have several to protect.
Q: What newspapers do you read daily?
A: The Chicago Tribune for statewide coverage, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, but only the sports page, and the Decatur Herald.
Q: Do you read the Record?
A: I'd like to get it. You're doing a great job.