Dan Hynes


Not surprisingly, former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich has resurfaced in the news in time to try to influence the upcoming Chicago mayoral race.

Attorneys for the impeached governor filed a motion Tuesday seeking supposedly missing evidence in his corruption trial, including records of a phone call between an aide and Rahm Emanuel, then the White House chief of staff (and now the clear frontrunner in the Chicago mayoral race). I use the phrase “supposedly missing” because I’m suspicious that the lawyers didn’t notice the evidence missing during Blagojevich’s first trial and the timing of the egomaniac ex-governor’s request coincidentally (or not so coincidentally) is just two weeks before the Feb. 22 mayoral election.

No matter. It is unlikely Blagojevich can do anything to derail the Rahm train. All the polls show Emanuel leading by a wide margin; an ABC7 poll released today suggests Emanuel has a commanding lead, drawing the support of 54 percent of those surveyed. (His closest competitor, Gery Chico, has the support of a mere 14 percent of those surveyed.)

Still, Emanuel addressed the subject of the “missing” tape Tuesday. Here is what he said about it, courtesy of the Chicago Sun-Times‘ Blago Blog:

He hearkened back to a two-year-old report by then-President-elect Obama’s transition team that concluded there were “about four” conversations between Emanuel and Blagojevich Chief of Staff John Harris, but “nothing inappropriate or any deal-making.”

“It also noted that I was asked at the time by the President’s transition (team) to provide a list of four names for the U.S. Senate: Tammy Duckworth, Jan Schakowsky, Dan Hynes and Congressman Jesse Jackson [Jr.],” Emanuel recalled, noting there was a separate conversation about Attorney General Lisa Madigan.

Trial testimony indicated that Blagojevich and his team considered this list a “BS list.”

“I provided that list. Then, there was a question: The governor’s representative said, `What’s in it for us?’ And I responded, `You’ll get thanks and appreciation‚ [but nothing more]. You also know how the [former] governor responded to the word, `appreciation.’ That’s been detailed over two years ago in the report.”

Testimony at Rod Blagojevich’s trial indicated that it was in fact lobbyist John Wyma who passed on that message to the Blagojevich team in early November, 2008 at Emanuel’s request. Wyma at that point had been cooperating with the feds in their probe against the former governor and provided the government with the necessary information to put up wiretaps against Blagojevich.

Meanwhile in other Blagojevich news, the judge presiding over the former governor’s retrial (U.S. District Judge James Zagel) ruled Tuesday that jurors’ names will remain anonymous throughout the trial and will not be made public until eight hours after the verdict is delivered. You can read the ruling here, again courtesy of the Sun-Times‘ Blago Blog.

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There are seven Republicans vying for the chance to knock Pat Quinn out of the governor’s mansion.

Democrat Dan Hynes wants to beat them to it, hoping to defeat the incumbent during the Feb. 2 primary election. I try to keep an open mind about all political candidates, but I must admit to being disappointed in Hynes when he made a campaign stop in Ottawa on Monday.

It didn’t bother me too much that Hynes was about 45 minutes late to the event – many politicians are habitually tardy, especially when campaigning. What bugged me was his inability to go “off message” – or even off script when talking to the media.

Sure, that’s a dream come true for a politician’s handler. But Illinois voters deserve someone who thinks on his feet, especially with all the problems our state faces.

When Hynes entered JJ’s Pub to a round of applause, his handler gathered the media for a quick group interview opportunity. The topic of most questions was the usual fare: taxes, the state’s budget deficit, health care, Thomson Correctional Center, Quinn’s early-release program for prisoners. If you’ve been following the governor’s race, you already know how Hynes answered those questions, because those questions have been asked of him so many times he has the answers memorized.

I give WCMY’s Rick Koshko credit for asking about stem-cell research. Hynes apparently has answered that one before, because he had an answer ready. So I decided to throw him a curveball and ask him a question he may not have gotten previously.

I asked him about the Asian carp problem.

Hynes said he knows the carp are causing trouble in our waterways, but he hasn’t come out with a position on the issue, so he wasn’t going to say anything more about it.

While it may be understandable that the issue isn’t one of Hynes’ top priorities, we should expect a candidate for governor to have a widespread awareness of the issues facing the state. Friday, the U.S. Supreme Court will hear a case against Illinois over the spread of Asian carp. It’s not exactly an under-the-radar issue. Shouldn’t a candidate for leader of Illinois have an opinion about something our state is being sued over?

As soon as he “answered” my question, Hynes abruptly ended the presser by turning away and quickly walking over to greet some supporters. He never thanked us for our time, which isn’t that important, except most candidates are nice enough to do so.

Let’s just hope that if Hynes becomes governor, he doesn’t turn his back on us the same way.

This column appears in this week’s print edition of Ottawa Delivered. Incidentally, I recently was promoted to managing editor of the print edition.