Editorial: The dawn of Gov. Pritzker

 
Daily Herald Editorial Board
Updated 1/15/2019 2:07 PM
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  • Lt. Gov-elect Juliana Stratton and Gov.-elect J.B. Pritzker celebrate their victories on election night last November.

      Lt. Gov-elect Juliana Stratton and Gov.-elect J.B. Pritzker celebrate their victories on election night last November. Steve Lundy | Staff Photographer

It would be fair to characterize our endorsement last October of J.B. Pritzker's candidacy for governor as tepid.

That endorsement was more a repudiation of Bruce Rauner's inept stewardship than an enthusiastic embrace of a Pritzker alternative.

But we did say, "Progress must come from somewhere, and we know that because of Illinois' political realities, it will not be through Rauner's re-election. Hope for change rests only with Democrat J.B. Pritzker."

As much as anything else, we banked on the hope that Pritzker not only has the temperament to bring well-meaning people together to work on behalf of good government, but that he is well meaning himself -- that he is motivated not by hidden self-serving agendas but by a genuine wish to do a good job.

Naive? Perhaps. But there is some evidence to support a belief in his fundamental altruism. And Illinois can only hope.

As we said then, "He has the wealth to maintain his independence, the personal skills to build collaboration, the breadth of ideas necessary to address the issues and the ambition to make a difference."

It is, of course, far too early to pronounce a grade on Pritzker's performance. He won't even be sworn in until Monday.

But we are impressed by the early signs that suggest Pritzker means to have a more thoughtful and more collaborative governorship than Illinois has enjoyed in 20 years.

He reached across the aisle to include such Republicans on his transition team as former Gov. Jim Edgar and former Senate Minority Leader Christine Radogno.

He invited all four of the legislative leaders to dinner at his home in a clear attempt at building relationships if not bipartisanship.

"He's reached out," House Minority Leader Jim Durkin of Western Springs told the Chicago Tribune, "and I'm pleased with his intent and his attitude toward working with Republicans in Springfield."

Going further than that, Pritzker tapped Republican state Rep. David Harris of Arlington Heights for his administration. Harris, who did not run for re-election, is expected to become director of the Illinois Department of Revenue.

"The governor-elect really wants to build a bipartisan administration," Harris told us in December.

Beyond all that, the new governor also has reached out positively to the general public. We like the "Day of Service" volunteerism event his team organized Saturday as a pre-inauguration warm-up. It's one of many signs of the inclusiveness he apparently hopes to foster.

Illinois has many difficult challenges and many of the solutions will be hard and controversial. Tough days lie ahead.

But it's an encouraging start.

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