Hynes ad features late Mayor Washington

January 22, 2010 11:56:59 AM PST
Pat Quinn's short tenure as Chicago's revenue director in the 1980s has taken center stage in the race for governor. Quinn's challenger, Dan Hynes, is running an ad with the words of the late mayor Harold Washington harshly criticizing Quinn's job performance. Quinn was fired after seven months on the job.

The governor says Hynes' new ad shows poor taste.

Washington's is a voice from the grave and one that still carries political weight, especially in the city's African-American voting precincts. The 60-second ad is not only a veiled attempt to wrest away black voters from Governor Pat Quinn, its universal message is that Quinn -- in his past -- had been considered an incompetent administrator.

"I would never appoint Pat Quinn to do anything. Pat Quinn is a totally and completely undisciplined individual," Harold Washington is heard to say in the ad. Watch the full ad

The ad consisted of a continuous talking head of the late Harold Washington videotaped in November of 1987, two weeks before he died. The mayor was telling the interviewer why he fired Pat Quinn, whom Washington appointed to lead the department of revenue in 1986.

"He almost created a shambles in that department," Washington says in the ad.

Twenty-two-and-a-half years ago, here's what Quinn and Washington said after Quinn left the City Hall job:

"He asked for my resignation. I sat down and wrote a letter of resignation. It is right here, and I won't be here tomorrow," Quinn said in 1987.

"He submitted his resignation. We leave amicably. We're old friends," Mayor Washington said.

"The same movement that was part of electing Harold Washington has, on the whole, been supported by Pat Quinn," said Prof. Dick Simpson, University of Illinois-Chicago.

State comptroller Dan Hynes, who has challenged the incumbent Quinn for the Democratic gubernatorial nomination, has repeatedly questioned the governor's leadership skills. His campaign says the Washington tape is evidence the competence question is over two decades old.

"I think the people of Illinois need to know how phoney baloney Dan Hynes is on this issue," Quinn said Friday.

Quinn pointed out that Dan Hynes' father, former state senate president Tom Hynes, was Harold Washington's 1987 election opponent and one of the late mayor's most bitter political enemies.

"Dan Hynes and his father left the Democratic party and attacked Harold Washington," Quinn said.

If the Hynes ad using the iconic Washington criticizing Quinn affects the African-American vote, the governor has his own ad criticizing how Hynes handled the grave-robbing scandal at the all-black Burr Oak Cemetery.

Simpson says the African-American vote could decide who wins the February 2 primary.

"The Democratic vote in the African-American community, particularly the one in Chicago, is very significant and could easily be the tipping point," said Simpson.

Hynes campaigned downstate Friday and was unavailable for comment. A campaign spokesman said, in 1987, the comptroller was an 18-year-old college freshman living in South Bend, Indiana, and was not involved in his father's effort to unseat Harold Washington.

This ad thoroughly blindsided the governor's campaign.