Friday, February 25, 2011

Illinois becomes haven for Democrats on the run

Illinois, known for its wayward politicians and back-door political dealings, is in the odd position of having become the Switzerland on the Prairie as lawmakers fleeing votes in Wisconsin and Indiana take refuge in its borders.

If Illinois didn't invent political dysfunction, it's made a career of perfecting it. Former Gov. Rod Blagojevich, accused of trying to sell a vacant U.S. Senate seat; imprisoned former Gov. George Ryan, convicted of turning his government offices into little more than divisions of his fundraising machine; and the patronage hiring and backroom dealings of the once-mighty Chicago political machine are just a few entries on the state's resume.

And now with bands of Democratic legislators streaming over Illinois' borders to avoid votes on anti-union bills and other measures supported by Republicans, some residents wonder why they had to bring their problems here. Others say it might do the state's political image a rare bit of good.

"It makes us look, for once, a little less crazy than our neighbors politically," said Chris Mooney a political science professor with the University of Illinois-Springfield and the Institute for Government and Public Affairs. "We seem like more normal politics, and that's not always the case."

Mooney's comments were featured in a February 25, 2011, article by the Associated Press.

Download a PDF of the article