In the race for secretary of state, Democratic incumbent Jesse White faces Republican Jason Helland and Libertarian Steve Dutner. Now wait a minute, you say, didn’t White insist that, after five terms, he wouldn’t seek re-election? Yes, he did. “This is my last tour of duty,” he said in 2015. But we’d heard that in previous election cycles, too, so we weren’t surprised to see White, 84, running again.
White, who cleaned up the scandal-ridden secretary of state’s office after he first won in 1998, has improved its consumer services so much during his tenure that it’s almost painless now to renew a driver’s license or buy a license plate sticker.
Yes, we’re wary of White’s coziness with House Speaker Michael Madigan and his loyalty to other dubious Dems. During the state’s budget impasse, White allowed a $35 million construction grant (for a school in Madigan’s neighborhood) to be parked in his office, conveniently out of Gov. Bruce Rauner’s reach. Earlier this year, White cut a radio ad supporting his friend Cook County Assessor Joseph Berrios’ re-election campaign, despite evidence that Berrios was leading an unfair assessment system.
Over nearly two decades, though, White has run a smooth secretary of state’s office. He has made teen driving safety a priority in ilinois. The state has seen a sharp decline in teen driving deaths since “graduated licensing,” a system White championed that toughened and slowed down the learner’s permit process, became Illinois law in 2008.
His Republican opponent, Grundy County State’s Attorney Helland, contends that White’s age is a good enough reason to vote against him — yet Helland, 42, was hard-pressed to tell us how he would be a more effective secretary of state. During our endorsement session with the three candidates, Helland kept his aim primarily on Speaker Madigan — a worthy target, for sure — but barely made a case for his own candidacy. White is endorsed.
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October 12, 2018 at 07:00AM