If you want to know which individual political race has the biggest stakes in 2014, look no further than the Land of Lincoln.
The Illinois governor’s race pits incumbent Pat Quinn, a Democrat, against upstart non-politician Bruce Rauner. Why are the stakes so huge? Because Illinois is arguably the worst-run state in America. It’s a blue state that has been run for many years by corrupt and bungling politicians, including Rod Blagojevich, who went to jail for trying to sell a U.S. Senate seat, and Mr. Quinn, who has run the state’s finances into the gutter.
This year shows no improvement. Even as the national employment picture has improved, Illinois actually managed to lose more than 15,000 jobs throughout the first half of 2014. In June of 1998, Illinois had 5.07 million private-sector jobs. In June of 2014, Illinois had just 4.98 million. Somehow, Illinois managed to lose jobs during this 16-year time frame.
If Illinois were to elect a reform-minded governor in a deep blue state that’s hemorrhaging cash, it would be a thunderbolt to the political class around the nation. Illinois could become a laboratory experiment about whether conservative ideas can work in a state that has been ruled by teachers’ unions and a self-serving political machine in Springfield and Chicago.