Meet Carl Hawkinson
by Norm Winick
Att'y Gen'l Jim Ryan and State Sen. Carl Hawkinson, candidates for Gov. & Lt. Gov.
Attorney General Jim Ryan and State Senator Carl Hawkinson, candidates for Governor and Lt. Governor

Carl Hawkinson is in for the race of his life. The Republican State Senator from Galesburg is hoping to be the first Knox County man elected Lieutenant Governor in over 150 years -- since Democrat William McMurtry served from 1849-1853. There hasn't been a statewide elected official from Knox County since Omer Custer left the State Treasurer's office in 1931 and ran unsuccessfully for Governor.

While he is by no means a shoo-in, Hawkinson has a few factors going his way. He is the running mate of the clear leader for Governor, Attorney General Jim Ryan, and he's got impeccable credentials: Harvard Law School; stints as State's Attorney, State Representative and chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee. Working against him are his lack of statewide name recognition, his recent defeat for Illinois Supreme Court to the well-funded campaign of an obscure Rock Island attorney, five other Republicans seeking the same primary nomination, the Democrats, and some objections by Republican regulars that the fellow conservative doesn't add enough balance to the Jim Ryan ticket.

In an interview Monday, Hawkinson said the primary opponent issue will likely be resolved first. One of the candidates, Jack McInerney of Chicago, has filed objections to all of the others' nominating petitions. Hawkinson is confident his will survive the challenge: ''We turned in the maximum number of signatures allowed, 10,000, and I'm sure they're valid. I'm not so sure that some of the other last-minute candidates will survive the challenge.'' If they do, the peculiarities of Illinois politics could lead to any number of results. ''I'm running as a member of a team but the Governor and Lieutenant governor are nominated separately. I'm supporting Jim Ryan and I expect him to be the nominee. If the voters choose someone else, I will support and run with the nominee of my party.'' Hawkinson would support a constitutional change allowing Governor and Lieutenant Governor candidates to run as a team in the primary: ''It probably would be better to run as a team in the primary, too, since you are elected together in the fall.''

If he survives the Republican primary, his likely Democratic opponent is former State Treasurer and populist Patrick Quinn. ''I'm prepared to debate Pat Quinn,'' says Hawkinson, ''but I'm not so sure he'll be the Democratic nominee. I think the party regulars are lining up behind Mike Kelleher. If it is Quinn, I could be the only downstater on either ticket.''

Answering objections that he doesn't add balance to the ticket, Hawkinson says that's his strength. ''Unlike some of the other candidates, I wouldn't be running if Jim Ryan hadn't asked me. One of the reasons he picked me is that we are a lot alike. He also feels that I am able to be Governor of Illinois. The fact that we share many views worked in my favor. Bill Clinton helped change the 'balance' theory when he picked Al Gore as his running mate. They were both very similar politically and both from the mid-south. They were also successful at getting elected. There is a lot to be said for electing people who can govern as a team.''

That said, Hawkinson added that he does provide some geographic balance. ''I will be looking at some issues from a little different perspective. As a downstater, I'm more familiar with the funding needs of downstate schools. I'm confident Jim Ryan will come up with an education plan fair to downstate.'' That hasn't always been the case. Hawkinson acknowledges that for many years it was Chicago and Downstate legislators who looked at school issues one way and the suburban ones, from generally wealthier districts, who stuck together. ''It hasn't been that way so much lately, though,'' he added.

''Jim Ryan and I are very compatible on issues of fiscal responsibility, getting the state budget in order, health care, support of public schools, and many other important issues.''

They are also much alike on one bellwether issue, abortion. ''It really isn't a major issue for governance of the state and while we are both 'pro-life,' my position is a little less hard-core than Jim's. We both oppose partial-birth abortions and public funding of abortions. I support a judicial bypass in parental notification requirements; there are clearly cases of abuse or incest that must be dealt with. I also allow for exceptions in my anti-abortion stand for cases of rape and incest or to protect the life of the mother while Jim does not. I also wouldn't put mothers in jail.''

Hawkinson and Ryan have been in the forefront of the state's anti-terrorism legislation -- Ryan as Attorney General and Hawkinson as chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee. Hawkinson's conservatism extends to protecting civil liberties and he isn't willing to go as far as U. S. Attorney General John Ashcroft. ''The state bill doesn't impinge on liberties the way the federal proposals do. The federal government and 40 states allow eavesdropping with only one party's consent; in Illinois it takes both parties. Both must agree before a conversation can be recorded. We've made a partial exception in instances of suspected terrorism but you still have to get court permission. We do now allow wiretapping, with a court order, by name instead of number. That way law enforcement officials can follow someone on a cell phone. The feds allow the indefinite detention of prisoners; we don't. I have problems with their proposed military tribunals; fortunately that's not an issue in Illinois. In the context of war, I support the federal law as long as it sunsets. we need to stay vigilant that we let it expire and stay vigilant on protecting our civil liberties.''

Hawkinson is consistent in his support of civil liberties. ''I tend to think that roadside safety checks are not something I support if they are used to arrest people for other things -- such as drunk driving. Arrests should be based on probable cause. We've changed the Illinois asset forfeiture laws so that the burden is on the government to prove that the asset is or will be used in a terrorist operation or drug dealing.''

At the Galesburg press conference announcing Hawkinson's selection, Ryan criticized Governor George Ryan for spending too much money: ''We've borrowed too much money; we need to be more prudent in how we spend our money.'' Hawkinson says that the spending spree resulted from overly optimistic income projections from all corners. ''Everybody was too optimistic and we budgeted too much.'' The Governor has since announced cuts in a variety of programs under his jurisdiction and Hawkinson doesn't agreed with them. ''I am not in support of cutting educational programs in prisons. They seem to me to be one of the few programs that make it less likely that people will commit another crime and return to prison. We do have a $500 million deficit. The legislature has not been willing to make the cuts or give the governor the authority to make them in more areas. That forces him to make cuts that are not equitable; hospitals, state employees, prison industries and prison education are taking unfair hits. Those are not the cuts we ought to be making. I would cut more across the board and we need to give him the authority to do so.''

Jim Ryan was DuPage County State's Attorney when Rolando Cruz and Alejandro Hernandez were convicted, partially based on perjured testimony, of a murder they did not commit and languished on death row until cleared many years later. ''Jim Ryan expects to be criticized for the Cruz and Hernandez case,'' says Hawkinson. ''I don't think he's vulnerable on that issue because I believe he did what he though was right.''

That famous case was one of over a dozen in which wrongly-convicted individuals were sentenced to death and led to a moratorium on the death penalty instituted by Governor Ryan. Both Hawkinson and Jim Ryan support capital punishment and expect it to be reinstated in Illinois. Hawkinson says he has introduced legislation which has been enacted to make the process fair to defendants. ''One of the biggest problems in many of those cases was that there was inadequate defense. the state is now required to train and fund qualified defense attorneys in capital cases; the money will be provided for expert witnesses for the defense. I supported legislation allowing DNA tests after conviction and they have already freed several inmates and confirmed others' guilt.''

Hawkinson is a policy wonk and one of the issues he's intimately familiar with is the school funding formula in Illinois. ''My daughter Katie is teaching in the Chicago Public Schools and I know how important it is to provide adequate funding for education. The formula has to stop penalizing districts with decreasing populations and tax bases. In principal I support a tax shift away from the property tax to a state tax -- probably on income. But I did not support the plans of [former Democratic gubernatorial candidate] Dawn Clark Netsch and [former Republican Governor] Jim Edgar, which disguised a tax increase in the context of a tax shift. The shift has to be revenue neutral. It cannot be a complete shift because the income tax would raise too much and there has to be a mechanism to keep the property tax from climbing up again. It's not an easy thing to do and I'm not optimistic it will happen. Michigan has tried a similar plan and I'm not sure if it's been in place long enough to know how well it's worked.''

''While I do not support a tax increase, I do support increasing funding for education as the economy grows. At least 51 percent of all new money needs to go towards education. I support a strong public school system; they have to educate everyone and some programs, like special education, are incredibly expensive. I do not support school vouchers because that's taking money away from our public schools.''

Hawkinson supports plans that are in place to grow Illinois' economy such as enterprize and T.I.F. zones. ''They should be used to grow jobs and bring in new ones -- not to shift businesses within the state.''

Building a controversial new Chicago airport is a subject Hawkinson defers to Jim Ryan. ''The Lieutenant Governor isn't going to make policy. I'm with Jim Ryan on expanding O'Hare but not constructing the new southern runway that displaces 500 homes.''

Other major issues that Hawkinson is willing address include health care. ''We need to try some experimental things that other states are doing, such as group buying. For some reason, Illinois only gets a 50 percent match on Medicaid reimbursement from the feds; most states get more. Health care for the poor is our responsibility as a government.''

He's also a supporter of increasing energy production in the state. ''Illinois must stay an energy producing state. We are in the top five and we can't let what happened to California happen to us. We need to experiment with other forms of energy; there is a wind farm going up in Bureau County and we must promote alternate sources -- especially ones that are environmentally friendly. I supported a coal bill that's already increased production and created jobs in the far southern part of the state but I don't want to see more strip mining.''

Hawkinson has always been opposed to gambling. ''I have opposed all the riverboats even though two are adjacent to my district. I voted no on dockside; if I was in the legislature then, I would have voted against the lottery. I don't think gambling is good public policy.''

But gambling by giving up his State Senate seat and leadership position to run for Lieutenant Governor is exactly what Carl Hawkinson is doing. ''I like our chances. Jim Ryan looks very strong and he has made it clear to me that I'll have a place at the table in the top echelons of state government and be entrusted with a significant role.''

Uploaded to The Zephyr Online January 4, 2002

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