Ten years in the minority often frustrated the Illinois Senate Democrats to no end. They would sponsor bills that had passed the House with huge bipartisan majorities - and often with significant public support - only to watch them quietly die in the Senate Rules Committee, which was controlled with an iron fist by the Republicans.

Every now and then it might be healthy for a reporter/columnist to get slammed in the media and have his motives and integrity questioned. It could be a humbling experience for those of us who make our livings routinely and cynically questioning the motives and integrity of others.

Every new governor has problems getting started. But Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich has had to learn some hard lessons during his first two weeks on the job.

Most of the problems center around Blagojevich's penchant for absolute secrecy.

By now, you've probably heard that new Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich was so surprised about the actual size of the state's budget deficit that he is considering breaking his campaign promise to not raise taxes.

An absolute necessity in politics is to have friends outside of the political game. Most political types understand this and routinely delineate between their political friends and their "real" friends.

A lobbyist, legislator, reporter, etc.

As you might have observed by now, Illinois governor-elect Rod Blagojevich promoted himself last year in an almost presidential manner. As soon as the election was over, a sympathetic scribe or two in the media even suggested that our governor-elect might have some presidential material in him.

Secretary of State George Ryan sat on a couch in his Chicago office, reading a document in early September of 1998. It hadn't been a good day. The feds were closing in, the media was turning against him, and election day was just two months away.

Some top Illinois Republicans are making a lot of noise lately about finding a candidate to run against Senator Peter Fitzgerald, a fellow member of the GOP, in two years. But is their publicity barrage against the incumbent freshman a warning that he faces defeat, or is it just a shot across his bow to remind him that he needs to start being more cooperative in Washington, or, at least, be a little more quiet?

Whatever.

Congressmen almost never have much influence in Illinois politics.

The political class sometimes even ships them off to Washington to get them out of the way - often to keep them from running for a truly important job, like alderman.

Every legislative session has its own feel, and its own rhythm. This fall's veto session feels like death - in more ways than one.

One should never predict anything about what could happen in a veto session, but nothing big seems to be moving or percolating this fall.

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