IL Green Party Challenges Guv Quinn’s Action on “Protect Incumbents Act”

Green Party leaders have sharply questioned Gov. Pat Quinn’s action regarding House Bill 723.  HB723 adds additional hurdles to candidates who are “slated” onto to the general election ballot.  On Tuesday, Quinn issued an amendatory veto, inserting language that would place a non-binding public question on the February 2 ballot regarding ethics
standards for public officials, but making no other changes to the bill.

The text that Quinn has added is not in and of itself being called to question, but Quinn’s unusual use of the amendatory veto and praise of the legislature’s language in HB723 deeply trouble Greens.  In issuing his amendatory veto Quinn called the bill “an important measure that will help ensure ethical conduct and transparency.

Bob Mueller, candidate for State Representative, 47th district (Westmont), believes that Quinn’s action belies his true priorities.  “Pat Quinn seems to think it is okay to lay off state workers in these hard times, and then turn around and give the corrupt, dysfunctional state legislature even more job security,” said Mueller.  “The amendatory veto may be intended to bolster Pat Quinn’s image as a reformer, but it actually completely undermines it.”

Jeremy Karpen

Jeremy Karpen

“By stifling competition and shutting voters out of the process, Democrats continue to prove that they don’t deserve power,” said Jeremy Karpen, candidate for State Representative, 39th District, (Chicago/Logan Square), who officially kicked off his campaign earlier this week.  “The more voters find out about the Green Party, the more they stand with us.”This bill has nothing to do with transparency or ethics. The bill is all about making life easier on incumbents, something Quinn should be opposing on principle.  Instead he’s decided to play games with democracy.  Slating is a process by which a party committee can nominate a candidate for a given office after a primary election in which no candidates ran for that office.  Slating has been used frequently by all three established parties, including the Green Party, for numerous offices from Congress to County Board. 

Called the “Protect Incumbents Act” by Greens, HB723 adds a new requirement that slated candidates must collect petition signatures from voters.  The number is equal to the number required to have appeared on the primary ballot, but the collection period is 45 days, half as long as the primary ballot collection period.  Green leaders believe the new requirements will deter candidates from seeking to be slated and will make it easier for rivals to have slated candidates
thrown off the ballot.

Thanks to already disproportionately high signature requirements, state legislative races were already widely uncontested, with half of all incumbents seeing no challenger in the 2008 general election.  By making slating more difficult,  HB723 will lead to a sharp increase in uncontested races for state legislature, leaving incumbent legislators less accountable to their constituents.  Gov. Quinn’s office received the analysis weeks before the amendatory veto
was issued.

There is some evidence that lawmakers designed HB723 to hinder the Green Party.  Once the Green Party we began to use slating to challenge entrenched incumbents, the legislature moved quickly to essentially take it away.  Despite the restrictive ballot access, the Green Party will be running a number of challengers for state legislature and other offices across the state in 2010.

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