Lt. gov. prepares for possible take-over

January 28, 2009 5:05:42 PM PST
Lieutenant Governor Pat Quinn has been watching the proceedings in Springfield closely. He would become governor if the state Senate votes to convict Governor Blagojevich.

ABC7 completed what will be our final interview with Lt. Gov. Pat Quinn.

If there are no more unexpected developments, Quinn should be sworn in as the next governor of Illinois sometime early Thursday afternoon.

It was another unusual day on the Thompson Center's 15th floor. Lt. Gov. Quinn -- who during his terms has spent most of time away from the office at ceremonial assignments -- worked inside the entire day. His focus was the transition of power.

"I think preparing for succession is necessary. We want to make sure the people of Illinois, their safety is protected. We've got to work on our budget, make sure we toughen up our ethics standards," said Quinn.

Quinn conceded he's already thought about who he will hire to staff his administration.

"We can't hire anybody yet. There are people I know that I would hire if my assignment changes and I know who the chief of staff would be and other people would are key to the running of the government every day," said Quinn.

The state constitution prescribes that Quinn becomes governor as soon as Rod Blagojevich is ousted from office. He'll immediately have to repair the broken relationships between the governor's office and the legislature and begin attacking the state's financial crisis.

UIC political science Professor Dick Simpson says to Quinn's political advantage is the fact the modern state government has never been so near to financial ruin.

"The state is in a near collapse and everyone is sympathetic. Here comes the new governor, let's try and get this job done," said Prof. Simpson.

Quinn says he'll also focus during his first year in office on reforming Illinois government to prevent some of the abuses that led to the impeachment of Rod Blagojevich.

Quinn told ABC7 that during most of the past two weeks there had been no cooperation from Gov. Blagojevich's office to help Quinn's staff plan a transition of power. But Quinn added that after the governor left for New York on Sunday, on Monday and Tuesday the cooperation level increased considerably.

Pat Quinn plans to fly on the state shuttle to Springfield on Thursday morning.