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Olson: Bill Brady makes his case (again)

Published: Saturday, Jan. 18, 2014 5:30 a.m. CDT

Bill Brady said the fact he’s already run against Gov. Pat Quinn and lost is part of the reason you should vote for him.

Brady’s already faced the attack ads, already had his character painstakingly examined by the opposing party and by voters. In 2010, he won 98 of 102 counties, received 1.7 million votes, and lost to Quinn by 32,000, less than 1 percentage point.

But this time, Brady’s argument goes, the honeymoon is over for Quinn, and people will realize in hindsight that Brady was the candidate who was really being honest four years ago; this will help him build on his 2010 vote total.

“What we know is that in big states … it’s hard for a relatively unknown candidate to come out of a primary and leverage that and build the base of support they need in a general election,” Brady said. “The rest of the three [Republican] candidates, whether you agree with them or disagree, will all be coming out of the primary starting from scratch.”

Brady, of Bloomington, is the second gubernatorial candidate so far who has stopped by the Daily Chronicle office to talk with me, after state Treasurer Dan Rutherford made an appearance a couple of weeks ago. (The door is open to the other two, or to our governor himself.)

Brady stopped in Monday after a visit to the Suter Company’s food manufacturing operation in Sycamore. He’s a candidate with business on his mind, talking about the employees at Suter, the challenges that business faces with things like worker’s compensation and corporate tax rates in Illinois.

Jobs are his top priority, and he has lofty goals for creating at least 100,000 new private-sector jobs each year if he’s elected governor. Part of his plan to do that includes a commitment to allow the income tax increase on people and corporations to roll back (although not completely) at the end of the year.

It’s already scheduled to do that, but most people assume that it won’t actually happen after the November election.

“We need someone who’s willing to stand up,” Brady said. “We need someone who’s willing to say, ‘Under no circumstances am I going to extend the income tax increase.’

“We know that we’ve lost over 200,000 jobs the last 5½ years. It’s not coincidental that that is the time that is tied to the 67 percent increase in the income tax and the highest corporate income tax in the nation.”

Brady’s plan to roll back the tax increase depends on the pension reform measure surviving court challenges, as well as the ability of the state’s economy to create jobs and the ability of the state’s legislators to cut the budget.

If Brady can meet his 100,000 new job goal, and the pension reform plan is allowed to deliver the expected savings, he estimates the state would only have a $400 million shortfall to cover in the first year without the tax, presumably with budget cuts.

That’s what has to happen if the state is going to compete with other expanding economies, he said.

“We’ve got to be competitive with states like Florida, Texas and others,” Brady said.  “We need a governor who’s willing to make tough decisions. … We have enough money to meet the highest priorities of our state. We need to reconstruct those [priorities].”

Brady’s a longtime legislator who spent 7 years in the Illinois House and later was appointed to the state Senate in 2002. He said that he can work with the Democrats who are almost certain to remain in control of both branches of the legislature.

He also talks about the Republican “brand.” Brady is a conservative. He’s anti-abortion although he says he realizes that a governor has no power to undo Roe v. Wade.

He wants smaller government and has a plan to eliminate the Illinois State Board of Education in order to allow local school boards to exert more control. He opposed the measures that legalized same-sex marriage and medical marijuana, and supported increasing the speed limit on certain interstates to 70 mph.

Brady questions the credentials of Kirk Dillard, who appeared in a campaign ad for then candidate Barack Obama talking about how he cooperated with Obama on Illinois issues. (In fairness, Dillard was an Electoral College delegate for John McCain in the general election.) Rutherford is too willing to accept the extension of the income tax increase, he said. And, in a line repeated in a Republican debate later in the week, he said that Bruce Rauner did damage to the party with his support for rolling back the minimum wage, then reversing course.

“The Republican brand isn’t about cutting the pay of working families by $2,000 a year per worker,” Brady said. “It’s about elevating economic opportunity.  But what [Rauner] did last week was set the party back to some extent, and that affects not just his campaign, but everyone’s campaign.”

Most importantly, he said he’s the only truly fiscal conservative candidate in the race.

“I’m the only one I know who has unequivocally said I will not extend the tax increase, who was willing to stand up for the taxpayers and I think for the annuitants in the workers when it came to passing and supporting meaningful pension reform,” Brady said. “I think those are fiscally conservative issues that no one else was able to find the courage to support, frankly.”

Overall: Brady’s stance against extending the income tax increase at any cost should appeal to people who still think legislators should have to keep their word to the people they represent and that government should live within its means.

His chances probably hinge on whether Republican voters believe he can get the job done against Quinn this time, and whether voters in the general election would believe he really can deliver on his job-creation goals.

To be clear: This column isn’t an endorsement of Brady, just as my earlier column was not an endorsement of Rutherford.

However, it is good and important to know which candidates in the race know where DeKalb County is. So far, it’s the two downstate candidates who have come, but if more want to stop in at our office if they’re passing through town, my door is open to them, too, and that includes Gov. Quinn. My contact information appears at the bottom of this column.

Fine whining: There was an interesting story that originated in Chicago where a party brought a small child with them, upsetting the other diners who had paid hundreds of dollars for a meal at the Michelin-starred Alinea restaurant.

On the one hand, I get that people who shell out big bucks for an experience want to enjoy that experience without disruption. I wouldn’t choose to bring small children to a fine dining establishment anyway. Most children don’t need truffles in their mac ‘n’ cheese or scrambled quail eggs.

On the other, I think that banning small children from a public place like they’re a nuisance is wrong. You can’t ban them from airplanes or buses or other places, either, unless you’re barring everyone younger than 21.

Babies are people. People who cry. We were all babies once and our parents took us places and we cried. Now that we’ve grown up, and it’s our turn to put up with it.

Personally, I’m on my third baby, and when someone else’s child is crying in public, I hardly notice it; haven’t for years. We do try to keep our children from disturbing other people – who likes to be stared at? – but sometimes that happens.

Sorry, kinda. But not really.

• Eric Olson is editor of the Daily Chronicle. Reach him at 815-756-4841 ext. 2257, email eolson@shawmedia.com, or follow him on Twitter @DC_Editor.

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