[Our colleague, John D. Cameron, Director of Political and Community Relations, AFSCME Council 31, shares his analysis of the decisions voters made in the gubernatorial and legislative races of the recent November 2nd General Election.]
Reducing taxes and cutting government spending were central issues all across the country in last Tuesday’s elections. At the core of the “Tea Party” agenda, they were also the banner behind which many state Republican candidates rallied, including those here in Illinois.
Leading the charge was the GOP gubernatorial standard bearer, State Senator Bill Brady. Not only did Brady repeatedly and harshly criticize his Democratic rival Pat Quinn for proposing a tax increase to solve the state fiscal mess, but Brady advocated a further $1 billion reduction in state taxes and insisted that the state’s fiscal house could be put in order by cutting the state budget 10% across the board. Libertarian candidate Lex Green also ran on anti-tax and spending platform.
By contrast, Governor Quinn refused to back away from his call for a state tax increase, while Green Party candidate Rich Whitney fully embraced the tax increase and reforms embodied in Senator Meeks’ SB750. Without question, the Illinois governor’s race was a significant referendum on the issue of taxes and spending.
With the votes now counted, the advocates of increasing taxes prevailed (Quinn with 47% plus Whitney’s 3%) while the opponents of tax hikes lost (Brady with 46% plus Green’s 1%.)* As Quinn has since said, the election provides a mandate to deal with the state budget in a responsible way, including a state income tax increase.
The results of the elections in the state legislature tell a similar story. Of the 48 incumbents who voted for tax increase (either HB174 or SB2252), only two lost last week (4%). Of the 71 incumbents who voted against those bills, 5 lost (7%). Some of the hottest races involved Tea Party challengers to pro-tax state senators like Hutchinson, Frerichs, and Wilhelmi (all who prevailed handily.) By contrast, the anti-tax votes of targeted lawmakers like Bond in the Senate, as well as Flider, C. Gordon, Hoffman and Walker in the House provided them no protection.
In the legislative contests, like the gubernatorial race, when given a choice more Illinois voters supported a responsible path for our state budget going forward.
*Editor’s Note: Independent candidate, Scott Lee Cohen, received over 3% of the vote in the gubernatorial race. Cameron does not include this figure in his analysis.