The great debate is becoming as ubiquitous in political campaigns as the debates themselves.

The debate involves one candidate, usually the underdog, challenging his or her opponent to a series of debates. Generally, the number of debates demanded goes up the more obscure the candidate is or the further behind.

The opponent will try to minimize the number to lessen the chances of a gaffe. And then the argument ensues about who is ducking whom and why.

Gov. Pat Quinn’s campaign said he accepted invitations to eight debates, and his campaign quickly charged that Bruce Rauner was dodging debates because he hadn’t agreed to the same appearances. Last week, Rauner agreed to eight debates or forums, only they aren’t the same ones as Quinn’s. Moreover, Quinn’s people said, some of Rauner’s agreed to “debates” are either closed to the public or aren’t debates in the sense of a face-to-face meeting.

By the way, Quinn’s list of debates is now up to eleven. As a reference, in 2012 there were three debates between the two men vying to be leader of the free world.

A bad week

Not the best week for either Quinn or Rauner.

Rauner didn’t get his term limits amendment on the ballot, although he can still use that as a campaign issue right through the fall.

Meanwhile, an inspector general’s report didn’t directly blame Quinn for illegal hiring at the Illinois Department of Transportation. But then former IDOT Secretary Ann Schneider said most of the illegal hires were referred to the department by the governor’s office and she didn’t feel she was in a position to then reject them. Ouch.

All in all, here’s betting that Rauner would rather have his week than Quinn’s.

Issue is on ice

Quinn last weekend took the ALS Association Ice Bucket Challenge.

That’s where you donate money to fight amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, also referred to as Lou Gehrig’s disease, and get doused with a bucket of ice water. The Quinn people posted a YouTube video documenting the occasion.

It was interesting, to say the least. Not only did Quinn appear in the video, but so did a dozen Quinn supporters, all of them fairly young looking and decked out in Quinn for Illinois t-shirts and shorts. Quinn appeared in a dress shirt and slacks.

Quinn delivered some short remarks about the importance of ALS research and then took the challenge. Almost nonchalantly he picked up the bucket from the ground, lifted it over his head and doused himself with the water. The way he did it you’d think getting doused with water was a regular occurrence in the governor’s office.

Quinn also didn’t display any ill-effects from an ice-cold water bath. Meanwhile, most of his campaign supporters, after dumping their own buckets of water on their heads, were hopping around, shivering and making various noises you’d expect from someone suddenly hit with ice-cold water.

Since this is Illinois and the middle of a campaign season, we have to assume the worst. Was the fix in? Was Quinn’s water really frigid, or did they slip some nice, lukewarm tap water into his bucket?

As with many campaign issues, the answer is less important than the speculation.

Educated mistake

File this under It’s Best to Proofread Press Releases Before They Are Sent.

It was issued by the campaign of Rep. Sue Scherer, D-Decatur, a retired school teacher. It touted her endorsements from the “two largest teacher organizations in the state of Illinois: IFT (Illinois Federation of Teachers) and IEA (Illinois Educators Association).”

Um, that should be the Illinois Education Association, not Illinois Educators Association.

You sort of think that if you got $16,000 in campaign donations from an organization since last August you might take care to see that their name is spelled correctly in your releases.


Doug Finke covers Illinois politics for the Springfield State Journal-Register. He can be reached at (217) 788-1527. His email is Follow him at