Illinois responds to Perry move by talking water
Texas Gov. Rick Perry arrived in Illinois Monday on a determined mission to lure away the state's businesses, blast its nagging financial problems and spark a little interstate rivalry with a simple message to Gov. Pat Quinn.
"I hope he enjoys the competition," Perry told The Associated Press in a phone interview. "I'm certainly going to bring it."
The former Republican presidential candidate will be in Chicago through Tuesday to meet with business leaders, speak at a bioscience conference and host a reception for any businesses that may be interested in moving to Texas. The visit was preceded by an aggressive broadcast and print ad campaign urging Illinois companies to, "Get out while there's still time."
He also defended his state's record on education, dealing with drought, the workforce and regulations in the aftermath of last week's explosion at a fertilizer plant that killed 14 people and injured 200.
It's not the first time Illinois has been a target of such poaching attempts; governors in Indiana, Wisconsin and New Jersey have tried it. And Perry made a similar trip to California earlier this year that Gov. Jerry Brown, a Democrat, dismissed as a publicity stunt.
Still, Perry hit on sore points that haunt Illinois' business climate — the nation's worst pension problem, lowered credit ratings and high taxes. His visit coincided with a poll released Monday by Morgan Stanley Wealth Management that found the Chicago area's wealthiest investors are more nervous about their state's economy than counterparts elsewhere in the nation, including the Houston area, which is the fourth largest U.S. city behind Chicago.
"This is a good red state blue state conversation we're having," Perry said. "The idea that we shouldn't be competing against or with each other is really counter to our founding fathers."
However, Illinois public officials didn't exactly give Perry a warm welcome.
Quinn, a Democrat who faces re-election next year, has said Illinois doesn't need advice from Perry, and the state's top Republicans agreed with him. Illinois GOP Chairman Pat Brady called the trip counterproductive.
Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel took jabs by bringing up Perry's best known presidential campaign gaffe where in a debate he forgot one of the three federal agencies he had promised to eliminate. He also pointed out the historic drought in Texas.
"Here in the city of Chicago we don't have to measure our showers like they do in Texas," he told reporters.
...There maybe places in Texas with a water shortage, but we are still bathing regularly. Droughts are cyclical. Two years ago the drought was much worse than it has been the last two years. But the business cycle in Texas has been much stronger than Illinois for several years as that state suffers under the money drought caused by liberalism.