- The Washington Times - Sunday, February 1, 2009

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. | New Illinois Gov. Patrick Quinn is wasting no time working to prove he’s nothing like his predecessor — impeached and ousted Rod R. Blagojevich.

Mr. Quinn will live at the Executive Mansion, he wants to reopen the state parks Mr. Blagojevich closed and he does not want his name plastered on Illinois Tollway signs when Mr. Blagojevich’s is removed.

Amid the work of running the state, part of Mr. Quinn’s new job is painting himself as the anti-Blagojevich, which he has started doing with actions both big and small.

“I don’t think that’ll take too much trying on my part. I don’t think in any way I have a style that’s similar to my predecessor,” Mr. Quinn said Friday, a day after Mr. Blagojevich became the first Illinois governor to be booted from office.

Mr. Quinn, a Democrat like his predecessor, already has made a point of being accessible to the state’s four other top elected officials, who had strained relationships with Mr. Blagojevich. He met Friday in Chicago with Attorney General Lisa Madigan, Secretary of State Jesse White, Comptroller Dan Hynes and Treasurer Alexi Giannoulias.

Mrs. Madigan said Mr. Blagojevich last met with the state’s constitutional officers July 1, 2003. Mr. Giannoulias said he was seeing the governor’s office for the first time since his November 2006 election.

“I really think this is healthy for our state that we get together on a regular basis,” Mr. Quinn said afterward. “We need to get the message out that … we’re working together for the betterment of everyone.”

While the new governor works to put even more distance between himself and his former running mate - the two had been on the outs for years - Republicans were quick to try to link them from the start in the minds of state voters.

The Illinois Republican Party said Mr. Quinn’s first act as governor should have been an apology to Illinoisans. It accused Mr. Quinn of standing by while Mr. Blagojevich committed the actions that led to his impeachment and removal from office.

“Blagojevich’s lieutenant governor and Blagojevich Democrats came to power on a promise of change, but four years later they looked the other way and chose to endorse Blagojevich for re-election even though our state was faced with the largest corruption investigation in its history,” state GOP Chairman Andy McKenna said in a statement.

Mr. Blagojevich’s impeachment was triggered by his Dec. 9 arrest on federal corruption charges, including charges he schemed to benefit from his power to appoint President Obama’s U.S. Senate successor. He was convicted by the Illinois Senate for abusing the power of his office by expanding state programs, wasting money and skirting hiring rules.

After his ouster, the state has moved quickly to erase reminders of Mr. Blagojevich. His picture at the Capitol was taken down and his name erased from state-operated Web sites.

• Associated Press writer Karen Hawkins in Chicago contributed to this report.

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