Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Line between Officials, Candidates Blurs Incumbents Have Upper Hand in Opportunities, Publicity, Expert Notes

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Line between Officials, Candidates Blurs Incumbents Have Upper Hand in Opportunities, Publicity, Expert Notes

Article excerpt

Roland Burris stood in his campaign headquarters recently and said he wouldn't defend the state against a lawsuit over Medicaid payments.

Was he Roland Burris, candidate for governor, or Roland Burris, attorney general?

Jim Edgar flew around the state last week handing out oodles of grant money while his office issued no fewer than 20 press releases in four days spreading the good news.

Is that the Jim Edgar running for governor or the Jim Edgar sitting as governor?

Dawn Clark Netsch tells the state every month that its financial house isn't in order as the gap between spending and income remains wide.

Would that be the Dawn Clark Netsch running for governor or the Dawn Clark Netsch who serves as Illinois comptroller?

When a sitting official runs for re-election or another office, some say the line between official acts and campaign acts becomes blurred at best.

"What incumbency can buy you, in general, is mostly good things," says Michael Malbin, a political scientist at the State University of New York in Albany. Malbin's focus has been on the advantage members of Congress enjoy. For incumbents, it translates into a million dollars a year, he says.

Such an advantage is part of the power of incumbency - any incumbency. In Illinois, although the perks aren't as lucrative, being an elected official counts for something.

In Burris' case, he got people to listen to him say he wouldn't defend the state, part of his statutory job description, even though the suit he was swearing off hadn't even been filed.

In addition, he made the announcement from his Chicago campaign headquarters, and his office in Springfield seemed to be caught short when asked why it was being made from there since it appeared to deal with his official duties.

"I don't have an answer to that," said Ernie Slottag, a press aide at the attorney general's office.

At Burris' campaign headquarters, press secretary Don Rashid defended the move, saying, "He's not doing this in his official capacity. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.