Oh, how a few weeks can rewrite the political narrative.
Governor Pat Quinn's job disapproval ratings have hit 53 percent and his approval ratings have skidded to 45 percent, according to a new Rasmussen poll in the Illinois 2010 governor's race.
Meanwhile, Quinn's primary opponent, Illinois Comptroller Dan Hynes, upped his TV ad buys to more than $1 million, got endorsed on Monday by the state council of electrical union workers, and on Tuesday snagged the pipe trades unions.
Voilà. A new political day.
A few weeks ago, questions began to bubble on whether Hynes would or should drop out of the race against Quinn. The governor was on a roll. He was piling up key endorsements, such as the Cook County Democratic Party, the union-heavy weight Teamsters and SEIU, and high profile progressives, like U.S. Representative Jan Schakowsky.
No more. The "Will Hynes drop out?" questions have dropped off. Gone.
Quinn's poll numbers have dived while Hynes' ad buys have increased and have endorsements grown. Hynes has no incentive to bug out. Droplets of Quinn's blood are in the water. And by splurging on his recently retooled ads, Hynes is clearly signaling he's in the race to stay.
And Hynes' union allies are drawing more blood from Quinn.
Ken Lambert, the chairman of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers state conference, said in a statement on Monday: "When Gov. Quinn had the opportunity to create jobs, he showed he'd rather play politics, and people's livelihoods suffered for it."
But Quinn has shown more political deftness in this campaign than many long-time insiders were willing to concede. And it shows. The governor has been raising oodles of campaign cash, pinching key endorsements, dashing higgledy-piggledy across the state to both official and campaign events, and nearly matching Hynes' TV buys. Not too shabby.
It's still Quinn's race to lose.
He has the incumbency. He has a personal charm that oozes every-man-on-street. He'll have the money.
But he also has a death-spiral Illinois budget on his hands. In fact, this week, he told House Speaker Michael Madigan, House Minority Leader Tom Cross, Senate President John Cullerton, and Senate Minority Leader Christine Radogno that he plans to borrow nearly $1 billion more to pay the aging, unwanted and unpaid stack of bills to vendors. Quinn also borrowed $1 billion in the summer. And the $2 billion borrowed has to be repaid by summer 2010. Good luck on that.
Moreover he has an income tax proposal -- raising Illinois' regressive flat income tax from 3 percent to 4.5 percent -- lashed to his back that 65 percent of Illinois voters dislike, according to a recent poll by the Paul Simon Public Policy Institute at Southern Illinois University.
Quinn can win the primary -- but Hynes will make him pay for it. And Hynes will stay in the race. Bet on it.