Hynes attacks Quinn in TV ad campaign

January 6, 2010 4:43:42 AM PST
Ill. Comptroller Dan Hynes, a Democratic candidate for governor, has launched a new campaign ad attacking Gov. Pat Quinn for the secret, early release of some prisoners in Illinois.Political experts say Quinn has done the right thing by coming forward and accepting responsibility for mistakes associated with the early release program. But his primary opponent is nevertheless hoping to make headway by using the program as a way to question the governor's judgment and leadership.

"It's an outrage. Pat Quinn caught secretly releasing 1,700 dangerous criminals to try and save money," says the ad.

It is a hard hitting commercial aimed directly at Governor Pat Quinn. And political experts say it may be Dan Hynes best opportunity so far to make headway in his campaign to unseat the governor in the primary.

"I think the early release, particularly because it resulted in, you know, in some problems, some visible problems, has the potential to hurt the governor," said Don Rose, political consultant.

Recent polls show state controller Dan Hynes trailing Gov. Quinn by a wide margin. The governor last week took responsibility for the early releases that he says were approved by his director of corrections. The program was put in place to help Illinois reduce the budget deficit. But the governor says on average convicts were released just 37 days earlier than they would have been otherwise. And Hynes' ad, he says, is misleading.

"I think he's running a negative campaign. I'm pretty much used to that now. Everything I hear from the comptroller is negative," said Quinn.

Already overcrowded prisons make up one of the biggest items in the state budget. Republican candidate Bill Brady is calling on Quinn to fire his director of corrections, Michael Randle.

"We've got people who are sentenced to three years in prison and released in 16 days. Clearly they haven't paid their debt to society?violent offenders and putting the public at risk," said Sen. Brady.

The most recent ad from Gov. Quinn's campaign is a feel good positive message. Experts say that's the message of a candidate who is comfortably in the lead. And who hopes to stay there.

"People don't like negative campaigning. They respond to it. They respond to it. But they don't necessarily like it," said Rose.

Dan Hynes has a campaign appearance in the Loop at the City Club Wednesday morning. He is expected to continue to talk about the early release program there. Political observers say it will be interesting to see whether the governor decides to respond to Hynes or even go negative in his own political ads.