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posted: 7/3/2014 10:32 AM

Editorial: Frat party politics bad for Illinois

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The Daily Herald Editorial Board

First there was Quinnochio.

Then the guys in chicken suits.

And now fake emails.

You'd think it was pledge week at Delta House rather than election season in Illinois.

Who do the Patrick Quinn and Bruce Rauner camps think the voting public is to accept this sort of sophomoric behavior when the candidates are angling to run a state that already suffers from a horrible image problem and whose financial woes are deadly serious?

It's as if they are channeling "Animal House," in which after the frat brothers learn they're being shut down, their pledge chairman shouts: "I think that this situation absolutely requires a really futile and stupid gesture be done on somebody's part!"

That film was a work of fantasy. Running the state of Illinois -- and restoring a level of respectability that might divert the attention of late-night talk show hosts -- is serious business.

But back to those fake emails.

Democratic Gov. Quinn's campaign last week issued a news release -- purportedly from Rauner's camp, according to an Associated Press story -- that said Republican Bruce Rauner would "emerge from hiding" to discuss whether he used his influence to to get his daughter enrolled in Walter Payton College Prep high school in Chicago.

The Illinois Republican party, with the backing of Rauner's people, countered with an email -- supposedly from the Quinn campaign -- stating that Democratic U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin would call on Quinn to testify in the investigation of his troubled anti-violence program, which was excoriated in a state audit this year.

"I know things get tough, but this is a new low," Durbin told the AP. "For goodness sakes, let's maintain some credibility with the public and the media in terms of our releases."

We couldn't have said it better ourselves.

It may be fun and games to those who run campaigns. After all, news outlets write about the stupid stuff amid serious discussion of the issues. But strategists know that some media outlets bother reporting only the former. We as voters should demand a modicum of dignity from those who would lead us. That certainly will weigh in the deliberations as the Daily Herald determines which candidate to endorse this fall.

We as voters need to sort through the noise by focusing on the issues rather than the gimmicks -- to seek the truth and not accept everything we hear and see at face value.

During the end credits of "Animal House," we learn that Bluto eventually is elected to the U.S. Senate -- a fantastical ending for the John Belushi character who thought it was the Germans who attacked Pearl Harbor.

In real life, it'll be either Rauner or Quinn in the Governor's mansion. And that's a fact.

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