CHICAGO — Gov. Pat Quinn enters his final days in office with a last speech and special legislative session on the agenda, but it's unclear whether fellow Democratic leaders will work with him on his proposal for a 2016 comptroller election or other issues he might raise.
The Chicago Democrat has kept a lower profile since losing on Nov. 4, aside from a weekend flurry of public stops. Political experts and lawmakers say his dwindling influence means little hope for a full commitment from legislators on his desire for an election to replace late Comptroller Judy Baar Topinka, or any last push to increase Illinois' minimum wage. Aides also acknowledge the lower-key exit, saying he's focused on slogging through clemency petitions and the transition of power to Republican Gov.-elect Bruce Rauner.
Quinn addresses the City Club of Chicago's business and civic leaders for a Tuesday luncheon — a setting where he's previously floated new ideas but this week could also talk about his legacy or future plans.
He's called lawmakers to Springfield two days later to consider the special election and told reporters Sunday he hopes lawmakers also use Thursday to consider succession of statewide officeholders on a wider scale. With days left, though, lawmakers said there had been little talk of plans to take up the issue.
House Majority Leader Barbara Flynn Currie acknowledged the opportunity for tackling other matters, but said she hadn't spoken with House Speaker Michael Madigan about the election proposal.
"Whether there are the votes, I don't know," Currie said.
Senate President John Cullerton supports a special election, and his spokeswoman Rikeesha Phelon said legislation would be filed by Tuesday. But Madigan has indicated he believes replacement decisions should be left to Quinn and Rauner. His spokesman didn't respond to messages.
Topinka died last month just weeks after winning a second term. Quinn appointed an interim replacement, and Rauner intends to name someone for her full upcoming term after he takes office. But Quinn and Attorney General Lisa
Madigan say a 2016 contest should be held to let voters decide on the last two years.
"This approach will allow for a two-year appointment and then an election without any additional costs to taxpayers," Phelon said.
Quinn's office says he still is working on hiking the state's minimum wage, one of his last top priorities. But House lawmakers adjourned last month without considering a raise from $8.25 to $11 by 2019, after senators backed it.
"It's very difficult for a lame duck governor to have any kind of impact," Chris Mooney, a University of Illinois at Springfield political studies professor. "He lost the election and politicians and citizens are looking ahead and not looking back."
Since losing, Quinn has largely traded in ceremonial bill signings for news releases, some without explanation. Aside from a series of weekend events, his public schedule has been limited since Nov. 4. Events included a Chicago Greektown street dedication not on his public schedule, promoting a veterans' lottery ticket and his usual Christmas trip to visit soldiers.
He held a Sunday news conference — an approach he started years ago for what's typically a slow news day — to sign legislation giving private sector workers the option of a retirement plan.
"We've done quite a few things over the last couple months and I plan to do more this week," he said. "When you take an oath of office it's for every day of your term."
Associated Press reporter Don Babwin contributed to this report.
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