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Friday, 30 May 2014 16:03

ERA Enters 2014 Gubernatorial Campaign

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Last week, State Senator Heather Steans (D-Chicago) bulldozed the measure, Senate Joint Resolution Constitutional Amendment 75, through the upper chamber 39-11-06, a vote that included two Republicans - Kirk Dillard and Minority Leader Christine Radogno.

A political relic from the 1970s, the Equal Rights Amendment, is likely to intrude in the 2014 gubernatorial campaign.

From 1972 to 1982, the ERA faced the Illinois General Assembly each year and it witnessed a string of uneven victories. The House and Senate traded passage, but never in both chambers in the same year. Eventually, the ERA was adopted by 35 states, three short of the legal requirement.

Despite slipping long past its deadline, some legal scholars have pasted together an argument that if the final three states adopt the ERA, it will find an open legal door through which it can walk.

Last week, State Senator Heather Steans (D-Chicago) bulldozed the measure, Senate Joint Resolution Constitutional Amendment 75, through the upper chamber 39-11-06, a vote that included two Republicans - Kirk Dillard and Minority Leader Christine Radogno.

It arrived in the House to a more iffy future because of Saturday's adjournment.

Deputy House Majority Leader Lou Lang (D-Skokie), who has sponsored the measure over the last two decades, last winning House approval more than 10 years ago, is giving it another go as the House sponsor.

There are an estimated 66 solid, available "yes" votes - 5 short of passage (State Reps. Jehan Gordon and Derrick Smith, who are "yes" votes, will not be in Springfield in the last two days, but are not being counted among the 66). Still, nose counters think that they can easily add another two, pushing it to 68. But that's where it gets dicey.

Word is Governor Pat Quinn and his campaign are eager to push the ERA through the House in the final days in order to add a political victory to his populist, social agenda, which includes same sex marriage. And governor is reportedly making calls to potential swing votes.

Some of those swing votes are still on the Democratic side. But not all Democrats will be on board, particularly some Downstate Democrats.

So Quinn and Lang will need some Republican votes.

State Rep. Ron Sandack (R-Downers Grove) voted "yes" in the House Judiciary Committee hearing that approved it 11-4. Tom Cross is almost certainly a "yes". Cross' Democratic opponent for treasurer, State Senator Mike Frerichs (D-Champaign), was a "yes". Some of the lame-duck GOP women lawmakers - JoAnn Osmond, Sandy Pihos, Kay Hatcher are obvious targets. GOP Minority Leader Jim Durkin is a "no".

Meanwhile Bruce Rauner's spokesperson Mike Schrimpf told The Insider, "As the proud father of four daughters, Bruce supports equal rights for women in the workplace and in all aspects of life."

A dodge. But well played for both sides of the issue.

Were the GOP to help hand Quinn a victory by Saturday adjournment, some insiders think that Durkin could actually do the Republican side a favor by taking the issue off the table, rather than allowing it to serve as a rallying cry for Quinn to gin up women voters for November. Stay tuned.

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Andrea Miller

Andrea Miller was the Democratic Nominee in 2008 for House of Representatives in the Virginia 4th District. Prior to running for office, Andrea was a part of Congressman Dennis Kucinich’s presidential campaign, first as Statewide Coordinator for Virginia and subsequently as Regional Coordinator. From 2006 until leading the VA Kucinich campaign Andrea was MoveOn.org’s Regional Coordinator for Central, Southwest and Hampton Roads areas of Virginia and West Virginia. Andrea is also the PDA Virginia co-chair as well as the Technical Director. Andrea co-hosts, organizes and programs PDA's Blog Talk Radio show. She is also the lead designer and production team leader for PDA's websites and printed materials. Andrea co-directs PDA's Capitol Hill letter drops and Hill meetings.

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