Mr. Un-Popularity

From our February 2008 issue: Rod Blagojevich was something of a golden boy when he became the governor of Illinois—a young, charismatic champion of change with powerful backers and presidential aspirations. Now he may be the most unpopular governor in the country. A look at how things fell so completely apart

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From our November 2003 issue: When things were going well for Rod Blagojevich

It wasn’t supposed to be this way for Blagojevich, whose improbable political rise to the state’s top job is a tale worthy of a Charles Dickens novel. The son of an immigrant steelworker and a CTA ticket taker, Blagojevich, 51, grew up in a gritty neighborhood on the city’s Northwest Side. As a youngster he shined shoes and delivered pizzas to help his family make ends meet. A mediocre student even by his own account—but a charmer fueled by ambition and scrappy street smarts—he got a law degree and through his father’s connections was hired as a legal clerk in the law office of Edward Vrdolyak, one of Chicago’s most powerful aldermen. Through a friend, he was hired as a traffic court prosecutor in the office of then Cook County state’s attorney Richard M. Daley.

In 1988, with politics on his mind, Blagojevich attended a fundraiser for Mell, where he asked a more politically connected friend to introduce him to the alderman’s 23-year-old daughter, Patti. They married two years later. Not long afterward, Mell recalls, Patti came to him and asked: “You know, Rod has always wanted to run for some office—do you think it’ll ever come up?” Opportunity knocked in 1992—right on Mell’s turf—and Blagojevich won a seat in the Illinois House. He served four years in Springfield and in 1996 was elected to U.S. Rep. Dan Rostenkowski’s old congressional seat.

Over the years Blagojevich racked up campaign victories but few noteworthy political accomplishments. His most notable achievement came in 1999, when, as a congressman, he helped Rev. Jesse Jackson free three U.S. prisoners of war in Yugoslavia. “I think he got a post office named after a fallen police officer,” state representative John Fritchey says of Blagojevich’s résumé. “That’s about it.” In both Springfield and Washington, he earned a reputation as a friendly and outgoing legislator, but not a particularly serious one. During his first run for governor, Blagojevich was something of a political Zelig: a pretty-boy political lightweight reared in Chicago’s old-style wheeling-dealing ways, but a candidate who campaigned as a progressive populist and anticorruption activist. So when he was elected in 2002—the first Democrat in 26 years to win the governorship—no one was exactly sure what kind of governor he would turn out to be. But with Democrats controlling the executive mansion, both chambers of the General Assembly, and all but one of the state’s five constitutional offices, political observers figured: How bad could he be?

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6 years ago
Posted by Anonymous

anyone who knows Rod knows he's a fraud. It's a shame but mark my words, the Feds will get him.

6 years ago
Posted by Anonymous

Excellent piece that sums up the horror that is our infamous governor. Narsissistic, sociopathic, remorseless bully just about sums it up. It might have been different if he had the brain power and business smarts to back up his ego but he's an empty balloon. If he was smarter, he would resign and save his children the embarrassment of seeing their father do the perp walk. But the stroking of his ego takes precident over all else.

6 years ago
Posted by Anonymous

I'd like to recommend a sports related process to the solution of the problems of Governor Rod. My wife and I recently moved back to Illinois after living for 28 years in New Jersey. New Jersey has an excellent Democratic Governor, John Corzine, an Illinois native (Talorville area). How about a trade, Blago for Corzine. We could throw in a supply of Vienna Beef hot dogs or whatever it would take to seal the deal. New Jersey is as comfotable as Illinois with flakes and corruption so I think this is a deal that could definitely be done.

6 years ago
Posted by Anonymous

Sounds like a fair trade to me!

6 years ago
Posted by Anonymous

anyone with a manicured pompador should NOT hold public office

6 years ago
Posted by Anonymous

I thought that part of the job description of the Governor of Illinois was that you had to do time in the "slammer" once you were out of office. It would appear ol' Rod is going to carry on the tradition.

6 years ago
Posted by Anonymous

I thought that part of the job description for the Governor of Illinois was that you had to serve time in the "slammer" after you were out of office. It would appear that ol' Rod will be carrying on that tradtion.

6 years ago
Posted by Anonymous

The Governor of Illinois is a prince compared to the idiot who is running Wisconsin. Jim Doyle takes millions of illegal donations to help him make decisions, is "in bed with" any Indian who wants a new casino and the teachers union, stated that he would raises taxes then raises every fee in the state, wants to tax every business out of the state, has a desire to force "universal health care" on Wisconsin taxpayers, etc...

Count your blessings you don't have Jim Doyle as your Governor.

6 years ago
Posted by Anonymous

Definition for Narsissistic is Rod Blagojevich,

6 years ago
Posted by Anonymous

How prophetic must the author of the 1st anonymous post feel after this exciting morning?

6 years ago
Posted by Anonymous

From outside the state looking in - why on earth do you people keep electing candidates like this???

6 years ago
Posted by Anonymous

It's not our fault, we try to elect people with back-bone and spine. . . it just so happens that their spine grew in crooked.

6 years ago
Posted by Anonymous

>Dec 9, 2008 01:33 pm
>Posted by Anonymous
>
>From outside the state looking in - why on earth do you people keep >electing candidates like this???

And from what fine state are you from? No skeletons there?

6 years ago
Posted by Anonymous

"why on earth do you people keep electing candidates like this???"

I for one did not elect this man, I'd have voted for a statue made of horse poop before I'd have voted for him. Both times.

6 years ago
Posted by Anonymous

At least, congratulations are in order: You're going to be rid of him.

Now, let's hope he doesn't name himself Senator from his jail cell...

6 years ago
Posted by Anonymous

"From outside the state looking in - why on earth do you people keep electing candidates like this???"

They elected this asno and we elected Obama!

6 years ago
Posted by Anonymous

It is too bad that our rulers are so corrupt.

6 years ago
Posted by Anonymous

Anybody or entity can give any amount to anyone running for this office. No limits! On Jan 1, state contractors will have limits, but not anyone else. How corrupting must this be? We have to determine to get this law changed, for starters.

Wow, what a psycho. Thank God for Pat Quinn, and especially for US Attorney Pat Fitzgerald. Obama better not even THINK of taking him out.

6 years ago
Posted by Anonymous

Is Blagojevich a Democrat or a Republican?

6 years ago
Posted by Anonymous

>Is Blagojevich a Democrat or a Republican?

He's a democrat

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