Governor Rod Blagojevich won a lot of legislative victories last year.

He rammed through a $10-billion pension-funding plan, increased taxes and fees, enacted several bills that protected workers, and killed an attempt to expand gambling.

Illinois Senator John Sullivan (D-Rushville) was the biggest surprise winner of the 2002 election. Political observers are still scratching their heads at how the Democrat defeated popular Republican Senator Laura Kent Donahue in a Republican-leaning district.

Despite winning two consecutive statewide elections by overwhelming margins, Illinois Comptroller Dan Hynes has just 14 percent in the U.S. Senate race, according to the latest Chicago Tribune poll. Even worse, Hynes is tied with two of his opponents, Maria Pappas and Barack Obama.

So far, the ugliest state-legislative primary race is in suburban McHenry County. Two Republicans are battling to challenge state Representative Jack Franks (D-Crystal Lake) in the general election.

Perry Moy (R-Woodstock) is the anointed candidate, a popular restaurant owner and county-board member who has widespread support among the local GOP organization.

Last year was one of transition for Illinois' political leadership.

The year began with Republican Governor George Ryan leaving office after just four years in office - a term constantly overshadowed by allegations of corruption while he was secretary of state.

"A prosecutor once described political corruption as a 'time-honored tradition' in Illinois, but the scandal outlined in a 91-page indictment against former Governor George Ryan might be the worst yet," claimed the Associated Press last week.

My father is a Barry Goldwater Republican. Goldwater, you will recall, was the Republican presidential nominee in 1964 who once said, "Extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice."

Dad never voted for a Democrat in his life until 1984.

Without a doubt, it was way past time that a giant corporation was rebuffed
in Springfield.

Every year, at least one of the big boys hires every available contract lobbyist, signs up a PR firm, cuts a deal with some pliable and influential third parties, and descends on the Illinois statehouse with a clever proposal in hand.

Up until last Tuesday afternoon, it looked like Commonwealth Edison had it made in the shade.

House Speaker Michael Madigan had signed off on what was thought to be the final draft of ComEd's bill to help it purchase downstate electric company Illinois Power.

The big boys who really run Springfield are at it again. Back in August, Exelon Chairperson John Rowe delivered a very frank speech to his shareholders. Exelon is the parent company of Chicago-based Commonwealth Edison, and Rowe explained how he planned to increase his company's profitability.

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