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Mitch Daniels to Illinois GOP: Be Nice

By Kevin Robinson in News on Aug 25, 2009 6:20PM

Indiana governor Mitch Daniels, himself a Republican, offered up some advice to Illinois Republicans trying to find their way out of the deep dark political wilderness they've been in since George Ryan left office. “Part of our formula here has always to keep the debate very civil—never personal criticism—and always try to have a better answer,” Daniels told the Tribune. “If Illinois Republicans think they’ll come back simply by putting up a picture of the former governor or lamenting the decline of this or that, then that’s not enough, and they wouldn’t deserve a return to office.” Daniels also said that having a better balance between the parties in power would lead to better governance. “I’m a fan of competitive politics,” said Daniels. “It’s not healthy when either side has a long-term monopoly. They get sloppy. They get arrogant. I do wish them well. I think Illinois would be well-served by a better balance, and then therefore a more active debate.”

One thing Daniels doesn't consider in his analysis of Illinois politics? The dysfunction inherent in both of the political parties in this state. With the Illinois GOP divided between hard right social conservatives and more moderate fiscal conservatives, and a Democratic party that is dominated by Chicago politicians and all of the corruption and game-playing they bring with them, it's very difficult to run a series of coordinated, issues based campaigns on a statewide basis. Negative campaigning “might occasionally work," he said. "But it’s not the right way to approach public responsibility to just simply say, ‘We’re not them.’”