"We are trying to change the tones in the state capitals - and turn them toward bitter nastiness and partisanship," Grover Norquist recently told the Denver Post.

Norquist runs a group called Americans for Tax Reform, and his organization was scheduled to participate in a Chicago press conference last week that was called to attack Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich for his anti-business proposals.

House Republican leader Tom Cross and Senate Republican leader Frank Watson weren't exactly on the same page during the spring legislative session. As a result, there is serious tension between the two Republican caucuses.

I'm not a superstitious person, but I'm starting to believe that Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich's life has been blessed by a kindly leprechaun, a lucky star, or an influential guardian angel. Take your pick.

He was elected to the Illinois House after a new legislative map gave state Representative Bruce Farley (D-Chicago) the opportunity to be kicked upstairs to the Senate by Blago's politically powerful father-in-law.

Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich has racked up some impressive poll numbers partly because the voters have so far bought into his constant refrain that he is "changing Springfield's culture."

There is no doubt that he has reformed some things.

State legislators are rebelling just about everywhere.

You've heard about the Texas Democrats who fled to Oklahoma to kill a Republican redistricting bill.

In Arizona, the Republican Senate rejected the Democratic governor's budget, then put together its own plan.

Governor Rod Blagojevich has spent less time in Springfield than any governor in memory.

Instead, he's either stayed close to his Chicago home or gallivanted around the rest of the state holding press conferences touting his programs and blaming his problems on a General Assembly that has, in reality, mostly tried (in vain) to work with him.

Jim Ryan might have been right.

Remember last year when the Republican gubernatorial candidate warned that Chicago Mayor Richard Daley would control the state's agenda if Chicagoan Rod Blagojevich was elected?

Well, current evidence is leaning in Jim Ryan's favor.

Say what you want about Governor Rod Blagojevich, but he's sticking like Super Glue to his top priorities.

Unfortunately, the guv's highest priority is running a permanent campaign. Pundits always used to accuse Bill Clinton of that very same thing, but Clinton was, of course, re-elected.

Republicans have waited a long time for some good news in this state, and it finally arrived last week. U.S. Senator Peter Fitzgerald announced he wouldn't run for re-election, and former Governor Jim Edgar hinted that he just might enter the race.

The cacophony of angry voices has started rising to a fever pitch in the wake of Governor Rod Blagojevich's state budget address last Wednesday. Most of the complaining is coming from three areas: riverboat owners; elementary and secondary educators; and higher-education institutions.

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