Gizzi on Politics: Illinois Elimination; Earmarks Favored; California Battle

Thursday, 18 Apr 2013 04:00 PM

By John Gizzi

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Illinois Republican state Rep. David McSweeney recently introduced legislation to eliminate the office of lieutenant governor, the state’s second-highest office, and save the state an estimated $1.8 million.

In Illinois, the lieutenant governor has no prescribed constitutional duties save to preside over the state Senate and be “governor-in-waiting” if there is a vacancy.

That is exactly what happened in 2009, when Gov. Rod Blagojevich was forced from office over a corruption scandal and was succeeded by fellow Democrat and Lt. Gov. Pat Quinn.

Second Republican Favors Earmarks

Republican Sen. Jim Inhofe of Oklahoma has gained an ally in his unyielding stand in favor of earmarks.

Republican Rep. Steve Stockman of Texas said last week that “money that was supposed to be used for dredging the Houston Channel in my district was instead being steered by the administration for environmental studies.”

Stockman emphasized that “I have never pushed for earmarks,” but added “if the money is appropriated, I don’t want President Obama telling people how it’s going to be used.”

Inhofe has long been at odds with most conservatives, arguing that if Congress doesn’t manage the funding for certain projects the administration will oversee how the money is spent.

California Democrats Battle to Take on Miller

Things are growing ugly in California’s 31st Congressional District as Democrats find themselves in a sudden battle to take on the Republican incumbent.

Redlands Mayor Pete Aguilar had been considered the favorite of state and national Democrats to go up against Republican Rep. Gary Miller next year and their contest was considered one of the “Big 17” — that is the 17 districts in Republican hands that President Obama and his Organizing for America political organization are targeting in order to take over the House of Representatives.

But former Democratic Rep. Joe Baca, who had been planning a comeback in his former 35th District, has now taken out papers to run in the 31st and thus put himself on collision course with Aguilar.

Last year, under California's French-style runoff system, Aguilar placed third behind Miller and fellow Republican Bob Dutton in the June primary and was thus eliminated from the November run-off between the two GOPers.

Weiner Second in Latest Poll

Less than two weeks after former Democratic Rep. Anthony Weiner of New York floated the word he was interested in running for mayor of New York, a just-completed NBC/Marist College poll showed him running second among likely Democratic voters.

City Council Speaker Christine Quinn is favored for mayor with 26 percent, followed by Weiner at 15 percent — putting the former lawmaker who quit Congress over a texting scandal in a statistical tie with City Comptroller John Liu, 2009 nominee William Thompson, and Public Advocate Bill de Blasio, according to the survey of likely Democratic voters.

Under city election law, if no candidate receives 40 percent of the vote, there will be a runoff between the top two vote-getters.

Bill would Eliminate Illinois Lieutenant Governor

John Gizzi is a special political columnist for

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