Editorial | Supporting White and Frerichs

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The News-Gazette continues its endorsements for the upcoming election today with an examination of the contests for Illinois secretary of state and treasurer.

As this newspaper has done in the past, it again endorses Democratic incumbent Jesse White for re-election.

It’s an easy call because the 84-year-old White is pretty much of a permanent political institution in Illinois, as close as one can get to holding lifetime tenure.

Pop quiz — name White’s Republican opponent this year. It’s Grundy County State’s Attorney Jason Helland.

Here’s another question that’s even more difficult — name White’s 2014 opponent. It was Michael Webster, an accountant and tax attorney from suburban Chicago.

Those GOP names, however, hardly matter. Republicans conceded this race a long time ago for a couple of reasons.

The first is that White, now seeking his sixth term, is a popular and likable politico who’s pretty much a sure thing. Why waste time and resources on an un-winnable race when what really matters is finding cannon fodder and moving on to more winnable battles.

At the same time, however, White’s permanence is not that hard for the GOP to take because of its negative political consequences on the Democratic Party.

For starters, White isn’t going anywhere. He finds the secretary of state’s office to be a first-rate rest home. Sure, he’s in charge. But the place pretty much runs itself while affording the incumbent multiple opportunities to get out and meet and greet the public.

No wonder he has repeatedly pledged over the past 12 years to be running for his final term in office only to change his mind. White doesn’t want to go. So why should he?

That intransigence is a burr under the saddles of many of White’s fellow Democrats — people like Mike Frerichs, Susana Mendoza and multiple legislators — who’d like to become secretary of state for the purpose of using the office as a springboard to attorney general, governor or the U.S. Senate.

Democratic candidates came out of the woodwork when Attorney General Lisa Madigan decided not to seek re-election this year after a long tenure. The same phenomenon will be on display again when White finally decides to call it a day. That’s assuming, of course, that he ever decides to abandon a job he clings to with such ferocity.The News-Gazette endorses Democratic incumbent and local boy Mike Frerichs for re-election. He’s done a good job in his first term, and there’s no reason to replace him. Plus, Frerichs is a rare non-Chicagoan who holds statewide office in Illinois.

Frerichs is facing Republican Jim Dodge, a strong candidate who has virtually no chance of winning. If lightning somehow should strike, Dodge is well-qualified to serve as treasurer. He has a bachelor’s degree from DePaul University and an M.B.A. from the University of Chicago with concentrations in finance and economics. His stellar business career includes working for a consulting firm involved in artificial intelligence, data science and risk analytics.

But in terms of politics, Dodge is a non-entity, a sharp contrast to the politically ambitious and connected Frerichs.

Frankly, it’s a shame this office is even up for re-election. It should be merged with the comptroller’s office in a way that would enhance efficiency and save taxpayer dollars. But Democratic House Speaker Michael Madigan has made it clear he will not tolerate any consolidation of state offices no matter how deep our state’s financial problems are.

It’s more important to him, as leader of the House and chairman of the Illinois Democratic Party, to have more public offices for aspiring Democrats to seek than to have fewer.

As long as that political priority reigns supreme, taxpayers will be left out in the cold.

Someday, perhaps, voters will have an opportunity to amend the Illinois Constitution and combine the treasurer and comptroller offices. But in this year’s election, they will be well served by keeping Frerichs for another term.

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Feeds,Region: Champaign,Opinion,Region: Central

via Opinion https://ift.tt/1Jd1xsg

October 1, 2018 at 07:20AM

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