The incoming Democratic governor is set to enter office Monday with the impression that he’s willing to work across the aisle.
When Democratic Gov.-elect J.B. Pritzker is sworn into office Monday, he’ll be expected to outline his plans for the next four years in this problem-ridden state.
It’s then that the hard part will begin — establishing priorities requires making choices, and making choices means rewarding some constituent groups while punishing others. When that happens, fur will undoubtedly fly, because this state’s limited financial resources encourage brutal competition for public funds among those who rely on them.
For now, however, and despite the ambitious policy platform on which he ran, Pritzker is being received as a blank slate on whom everyone is pressing their most favored impressions.
He’s in somewhat the same position as a backup quarterback whose popularity is driven by animosity toward the starter. If Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner is leaving Springfield as everyone’s favorite whipping boy — and he is — Pritzker is entering as the man who, for now at least, is perceived as incapable of doing any wrong.
His promises of bipartisan solutions to Illinois’ problems are being accepted as the gospel truth.
Consider, for example, the effusive reaction to Pritzker’s visit to a GOP gathering in Springfield after the swearing-in Wednesday of the new Legislature.
“J.B. walked in, and no one could believe it. We haven’t seen anything like that in years. You could feel the energy in the room,” The Chicago Tribune quoted one guest as saying.
The Tribune further reported that Pritzker and the Republicans laughed heartily and promised to work together to advance Illinois.
It’s not just in Illinois, where it’s joyfully out with the old and in with the new.
New Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers, a Democrat who defeated two-term GOP incumbent Scott Walker, has been the subject of similarly effusive greetings.
One newspaper profile of Evers suggests the veteran politician is the soul of unblemished virtue who brags that he cares “about kids” and “doing the right thing for the people of Wisconsin.”
“He loves Egg McMuffins and likes to say things like ‘Holy mackerel’ and ‘Jeepers’,” The AP reported.
That’s fine as far as it goes.
It is, of course, important to maintain an positive attitude, not to mention embracing with an open mind incoming public officials who face tough jobs.
To borrow an analogy promulgated by a prominent political cartoonist, everyone starts off with a clean shave, a fair chance, an opportunity to take the state in a new, positive direction.
Everyone should fervently hope that Pritzker is successful in his effort to revitalize the state’s economy and take the initial steps needed to address Illinois’ financial woes.
That’s why most everyone who cares about this state’s future will be listening to what Pritzker has to say and, more important, watching with interest what he does in the months ahead.
After four years of mutual bipartisan failure by the governor and General Assembly, Illinois has a new opportunity to begin to restore its lost luster. It’s no exaggeration to say that failure is not an option.
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January 13, 2019 at 07:04AM