Blago kicks off campaign, begins tour of state
Governor Rod Blagojevich officially launched his re-election camapaign today in Springfield and will follow-up with a tour of the state, including a stop in Moline tomorrow (Monday).
Gov. Rod Blagojevich formally launched his re-election campaign Sunday by renewing his vow not to raise taxes and warning that Republicans would reverse his efforts to make Illinois a better place for families.
The Democrat said Illinois has come a long way since the "dark and troubling time" when he was elected after 26 years of Republicans controlling the governor's office.
The budget is balanced, schools have more money, health care is available to more people and government is more efficient, he told a cheering crowd. Blagojevich said he needs a second term to continue that work and keep Republicans from undoing it.
"You've seen it all before - the empty promises, the fake answers. We've already lived through that nightmare," he said. "The people who created the mess can't move us forward."
He boasted of fulfilling his campaign promise not to raise income or sales taxes, but Blagojevich's speech said nothing about renewing that promise for a second term. That came afterward, under questioning from reporters.
"I'm not going to raise taxes on the hardworking people of Illinois. I won't do it. I don't believe in it," he said.
His 15-minute speech was also silent on what Republicans argue is his biggest weakness: ethics.
Blagojevich took office promising to clean up government after the administration of Gov. George Ryan, now on trial for federal corruption charges. Blagojevich helped pass a major overhaul of state ethics laws, but he also has awarded contracts to campaign donors, given state jobs to political insiders and allowed lobbyists to help shape his administration's policies and personnel.
To underscore the point, Republican front-runner Judy Baar Topinka chose Sunday to release her proposal for stronger ethics laws. Her running mate, Joe Birkett, accused Blagojevich of flying around the state "on an airplane fueled by pay-to-play cash" and said the governor has "given us grand jury subpoenas, investigations and indictments."
Asked about awarding state contracts to donors, Blagojevich said he would "continue to make sure we follow all the rules and ... that we have an open and fair bidding process."
Opinion polls show very low approval of Blagojevich's performance. Even among Democrats, only 52 percent want to see him re-elected, according to one recent survey.