State School News Service
'Newspaper’ of the Illinois Education Community Since 1995
830 S. College St., Springfield, IL 62706

SSNS Endorsement for Governor of Illinois


Rich Whitney

We endorse Green Party candidate Rich Whitney, not in protest or as a throw-away, but as a vote we are sure you'll be proud to have cast.


Judy Baar Topinka

Republican Judy Baar Topinka is not the same person, as a candidate, that we have respected as a public servant for the last two decades.


Rod Blagojevich

Absolutely not. He had his chance to prove he can lead honestly and effectively, and failed. He has disgraced the State of Illinois and his own Democrat party..

(Click the candidates' photos above to read our rationale for endorsing or rejecting each one.)

Vote Whitney: You'll be proud you did

There will be an election for governor on November 7, and the voters' decision will affect the schools of Illinois profoundly and for a long time.

Not to endorse would be to repudiate the democratic process itself.

It's more difficult this year than most, but rejecting the candidacy of the Democrat, Gov. Rod Blagojevich, is not difficult. That's the easy part. His administration has been a disaster. He has shown contempt for the rule of law, disdain for the policy process and disrespect for the citizens.

His principles are not in question - he lacks them.

The difficulty is choosing between Republican Judy Baar Topinka and Green Party candidate Rich Whitney. Topinka had all the advantages. We expected to be able to recommend her without reservation.

Our endorsement was hers to lose. But she lost it, by pandering like Blagojevich, mudslinging like Blagojevich, and "staying the course" with a revenue proposal - massive expansion of casino gambling - that even she knows would destroy careers, lives, families and children. We truly regret this, but it's a fact. Click on her photo to see our full explanation.

So, we must endorse Rich Whitney, the Green Party candidate. Is this just a process of elimination? Are we recommending Whitney as a protest or "throw-away" vote, or as an angry "statement" to the major parties?

No, no, and no!

Our Endorsement Criteria

  1. Does the candidate offer strong potential for positive education policy, not just with respect to funding but also on such issues as operational support for public schools and respect for locally elected school boards?

  2. Does the candidate demonstrate a grasp of the challenges facing public education and offer reasonable, proposals to meet them for the long term?

  3. Does the candidate appear to approach public service with the respect for the office of governor, for the legislative branch and for the citizens of Illinois?

  4. Does the candidate seem honest?

  5. Would the candidate have the ability to govern if he or she is elected?

  6. Does the candidate have a chance to win the election on November 7?

In a Blagojevich versus Topinka two-way race, we would have been comfortable endorsing Topinka. That would not have been like choosing "the lesser of two evils." Topinka is not evil. In fact, it will be no disaster if she is elected. We know she would improve Illinois policy in many very important ways, and gambling opponents can block her expansion proposal.

But in the choice between Topinka and Whitney, it is the Carbondale lawyer who has earned our endorsement.

Whitney has shown his grasp of the issues and has offered enlightened and reasoned positions to address them. He has an understanding of the state policy process far beyond what would be expected of a candidate who has never held a public office, and far beyond that of most who have.

Whitney has emerged as the class of the field. While Blagojevich and Topinka bickered about who is the more corrupt or about debates and how to avoid them, as they pandered shamelessly, Whitney stayed on point with reasonable, workable positions on important issues. Most importantly, he has remained honest and has adhered to his principles.

Can Whitney win? The odds are long. But with the major party candidates destroying each other daily and half the voters now saying they don't like either of them, and with Whitney rising in the polls from about zero to double-digit numbers with three weeks to go, his goal no longer appears completely beyond the fringe.

Want an example? In 1992, the popular U.S. Sen. Alan Dixon was opposed in the Democrat primary by Alfred Holfeld, a wealthy lawyer who wanted to buy himself a Senate seat, and by Cook County Recorder of Deeds Carol Mosely Braun, a former state legislator who was angry at Dixon for his vote to confirm U.S. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas.

Carol Braun was the throw-away candidate. She had "no chance." But she campaigned steadily and seemed reasonable, while Dixon and Holfeld ignored her and hurled venom at each other. The final vote was split almost evenly, three ways, but Carol got about 37% - and won. (True, she was a disappointment as a Senator, but that's another story.)

The lesson: In a three-way race, when the "favorites" take each other down, the "throw-away" has a chance.

Do we expect Whitney to win? No. Preferences are not the same as predictions. If you want a prediction, here it is: We believe Blagojevich will finish 4 or 5 percentage points ahead of Topinka - without regard to what percentage the governor winds up getting - with Whitney getting whatever votes are left.

Thus, if Blagojevich gets 41%, Topinka will get 36% or 37% and Whitney 22% or 23%. That's about what we think is likely. But if we're as far as seven points off on Blagojevich (and federal court actions before the elections could make that happen), Blagojevich gets 34%, Topinka gets 29% or 30% and Whitney 35% or 36%. You see? It's possible.

Sometimes winning is unimportant. Unless a voter is so twisted in his view of democracy that bragging that he "voted for the winner" is his top priority, a vote for Whitney is the only honorable thing. Since Topinka can't win (her vote total is fixed by the dynamics of this contest at some figure below Blagojevich's - click here to see why), there is no benefit to voting for her. If you think the governor is wonderful, any many misguided souls apparently do, then vote for the winner.

But if you want to be proud of how you voted - and have even an outside chance of voting for a winner - Whitney is the only choice for you. He's not likely to win, but unlike Topinka, he has a chance. In any case, your vote will be a message (not a bad thing) and it will help establish the Green Party to compete for our votes in the future.

It's a rare and pleasant thing when a choice that's forced upon us is also one we can be proud of.

We strongly endorse Green Party candidate Rich Whitney for Governor of Illinois on November 7, 2006.