09/12/2009 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Why I Support Dan Hynes for Governor of Illinois

Great-grandfather Adlai Stevenson I, then a student, later vice president of the United States, told of grandfather Jesse Fell proposing to Senator Stephen A. Douglas joint discussions of slavery in the territories with a young lawyer-legislator named Abraham Lincoln, and the "cordial" conversation with Lincoln that followed. After this series of debates -- each lasting three hours -- brought to Lincoln national attention, he wrote and gave Fell his "autobiographical sketch" which Fell used to promote his candidacy for president. Fell was next tasked with organizing for Lincoln the Illinois Republican delegation to the 1860 National Convention. That was my family's first and last Republican convention -- and the beginning of its tradition of service to Illinois.

Adlai I acquired from Lincoln a practice of recording anecdote, jokes and stories -- like Jesse Fell's role in Lincoln's rise -- in a loose-leaf binder that expanded over the succeeding generations into a black binder that became known as The Black Book. Like my father before me, I have used this treasure trove of wit and wisdom to enliven and inform speeches, and to find strength. It's amazing to see what has changed -- and what hasn't -- in politics over 150 years.

And so it is keeping with family tradition of service to Illinois -- and with a copy of The Black Book in hand -- that I am giving my support to Dan Hynes for Governor. My hope is Dan can restore the politics, little remembered, that made the Land of Lincoln a great state rather than an object of national mockery. We are met with challenges unseen in decades, but we will emerge stronger with steady and principled leadership. Dan is the right man for the moment, and I am proud to support him for Governor.

Dan shares the progressive values that have guided my family for generations, and he has a clear vision and the requisite skills and experience to get our state back on track. Dan's experience as Illinois Comptroller uniquely qualifies him to meet this challenge. As important, Dan understands that it's a false choice between cutting vital services that provide for those who are most in need, and burdening working families who are already struggling to get by. Dan is equipped from Day One to put our house back in order, and lay the foundation upon which we can be the society we wish to be.

Of course, Dan's record of responsible fiscal management speaks for itself, and I know it will serve him well as Governor. I am lucky, however, to have come to know Dan well over the years, and it is his personal judgment and decency I admire most. Dan is honest, thoughtful and smart, and these are qualities that have been in depressingly short supply at the Governor's Mansion in recent years.

My support for Dan does not mark opposition to anyone else. I support him because Illinois can -- and must -- do better.

This campaign will not be easy, but I am sure that Dan will stay true to progressive principles. I hope he finds wisdom, and no small amount of wit, in The Black Book, and remembers my dad, Adlai Stevenson II, who stood for his principles even when doing so proved unpopular. And those principles -- progressive to the core -- have stood the test of time.

Certainly my father's vision of America was validated when another progressive Illinoisan was sworn in as our nation's 44th President last January. But the work is not done, and before we can talk with confidence of hope and change in Illinois, we need to elect Dan Hynes Governor.