GOP candidate for lt. gov. keeping low profile

August 12, 2010 (CHICAGO)

Plummer sat down and talked with ABC 7 political reporter Charles Thomas on Thursday. Thomas takes a look at the race for lieutenant governor between Plummer and his Democratic counterpart, Sheila Simon.

Jason Plummer makes campaign appearances, but he rarely gives advance notice of them to reporters. Thursday's interview was the Republican candidate's first with a Chicago television station in at least three months.

The first thing most people notice about Jason Plummer is his height -- 6'7" --and his youth -- 28 years old. The Republican lieutenant governor candidate says the younger generation of voters should have a voice in Illinois fiscal decisions -- including pension reform -- that affect their futures.

"Its gonna be my generation and the generation following me and the generation following them footing the bill. If we're gonna be the ones footing the bill, then I think we should have a seat at the table," said Plummer.

With his aides in tow, the University of Illinois Graduate said over coffee that he works at his family's successful lumber business in downstate Edwardsville. He self-funded most of his winning primary campaign.

But, unlike his running mate Bill Brady, and Democrats Pat Quinn and Sheila Simon, Plummer will not release or allow public inspection of his income tax returns.

"Due to a lot of family relationships and a lot of business relationships," Plummer said, "if I were to release my tax returns, I'd be releasing the information of a whole lot of private individuals, and I don't think that's right."

"I don't think there's any reason to not be open and accountable. We're seeking high office here," said Simon.

Democrat Simon called Plummer a "risky" candidate, not only because of his still private finances, but also because of his youth and inexperience.

"When we don't know what he's done. When we don't know where his priorities are in life by the walk he has taken in life, then we're taking a risk," Simon said.

Initially, Senator Brady refused to reveal his tax documents. He relented under political pressure and the returns revealed the Bloomington homebuilder had not paid any income tax for the past two years because of business losses.

Plummer insisted he did pay state as well as federal income taxes.

"I've paid a whole lot of money in taxes," said Plummer. Really? "Yes." But you can't tell us how much? Plummer didn't answer.

Plummer said other, more-powerful-than-he-would-be elected officials have not made their tax returns public. So why should he?

"The folks that implement public policy and have a say in how taxpayer dollars are spent should be held to the same standard," Plummer said.

Plummer's refusal to release his tax returns does not appear to have hurt the Republicans. In an independent Rasmussen survey of 750 likely Illinois voters telephoned earlier this week, the Bill Brady/Jason Plummer ticket led Democrats Pat Quinn and Sheila Simon 48 percent to 35 percent.

That 13 point spread is the largest Rasmussen has reported so far the campaign.

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