When looking at the race for Governor in both Wisconsin and Illinois, voters in the two states have jobs, taxes, and the economy as their first thoughts on the issues. Now, there is a emerging issue in Illinois with the possibility of detainees from Guantanamo Bay held in Thomson, IL which is a three hour drive from both Milwaukee and Madison. As the facility is located within driving distance of four major cities in two states raises the concern of national security being an X-Factor in both the Wisconsin and Illinois Governor’s races.
Governor Pat Quinn who is running for re-election in 2010 in spite of a harsh primary fight from State Comptroller Dan Hynes may see bringing GITMO detainees to the Prairie State as his possible downfall. Also, if Quinn survives the Democrat primary for Governor less than 90 days from now the issue of GITMO could give the GOP a oversized punching bag to attack Governor Quinn on the issue. Just about every Republican Governor candidate in Illinois is opposed to Guantanamo Bay detainees being held at the Thomson Correctional Center. One of the Republican candidates, Dan Proft told the Chicago Sun Times over the weekend: “that if we do not allow the GITMO detainees in Illinois, then Thomson’s empty cells should be used to help relieve prison overcrowding in Illinois.” Bill Brady who is another GOP Governor candidate in Illinois has viewed Governor Quinn’s tactics as a bait and switch to the overburdened taxpayers of the Prairie State. The Downstate Illinois State Senator raised the question as Governor Quinn is asking for more taxpayer money to build more prisons while Thomson sits empty. These two sentiments are part of a shared accusation against the Governor of playing a political shell game.
Despite the GITMO controversy in Illinois has serious issues for the Prairie State, there are serious national security implications in Wisconsin if terrorists are detained within a three hour drive of two major Wisconsin cities. Despite the race for Wisconsin Governor between Scott Walker and Tom Barrett is underway, the GITMO issue in Illinois could be one of three X-factors in race for the Governor’s mansion in Wisconsin. The other two X-factors in the race are conceal-carry and opting out of the Public Option. With Barrett being a former Congressman, his voting record on national security issues could come into play in the race for Governor on Homeland Security issues. If GITMO in Illinois becomes the X-Factor in the race for Wisconsin Governor, Barrett will have a very difficult time selling his campaign with independent voters if he supports housing terrorist detainees within a three hour distance of Milwaukee and Madison. According to SurveyUSA, President Obama’s approval rating in the Badger State is only at 39% with independent voters in a poll commissioned by KSTP-TV in Minneapolis.
The factor of GITMO detainees housed in Illinois could be a reason why people in Wisconsin will pay attention to the primary for Governor in both parties in Illinois less than 90 days from now. As people are concerned about the safety and security of the Badger State and the Prairie State, they will pay attention to the candidates who will make homeland security a top priority in their states. GITMO could be another chip on the table to prove that next year’s Governor’s elections are a referendum on the Democrats in power and Team Obama.