January 31, 2007

Former governors to discuss moderates in politics

by Sun Min

CARBONDALE, Ill. - Three former governors will hold a candid discussion on the "Future of Moderates in State and National Politics" during an event sponsored by the Paul Simon Public Policy Institute at Southern Illinois University Carbondale.

Two Republicans – former Illinois Gov. Jim Edgar and former New Jersey Gov. Christine Todd Whitman – and a Democrat, former Nebraska governor and current U.S. Sen. Ben Nelson, will speak at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, Feb. 6, at the SIUC Student Center Ballroom D. Nelson will appear via satellite. The event is free and open to the public.

Institute Director Mike Lawrence will serve as moderator. "I am delighted that three highly successful moderates – two Republicans and a Democrat – have agreed to discuss the prospects for energizing and galvanizing a potentially powerful section of the electorate. They impacted national policy as governors in the '90s, and Sen. Nelson helped fashion a bipartisan bloc that has made a difference in the often-gridlocked Congress. I am confident their perspectives will be provocative and constructive," Lawrence said.

A recent poll by the Pew Research Center for the People and the Press revealed that 48 percent of Americans would prefer to vote for a moderate candidate from either party in the 2008 presidential election.

The numbers also showed that a majority of Americans, 60 percent, like leaders who take a mix of conservative and liberal positions.

Edgar, who served as governor from 1991 to 1999, advocated increases in funding for education along with cuts in government employment, spending and welfare programs. His moderate views appealed to Republicans and Democrats alike, making him one of the most popular governors in Illinois history. Edgar left office with an approval rating above 60 percent.

Whitman, who was New Jersey governor from 1994 to 2001, and who served as administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency under President George W. Bush, is another moderate Republican. In her book, "It's My Party, Too: The Battle for the Heart of the G.O.P. and the Future of America," Whitman warned against the highjacking of her party by extremists. Her goal is to bring back the centrist dialogue that has become rare in recent years.

Nelson served as Nebraska governor from 1991 to 1999 and was elected to the U.S. Senate in 2000. He is known as a consensus builder in the closely divided Senate. He worked to forge compromises between President Bush and Congress on homeland security, tax cuts and Medicare reform.

The three politicians will offer their views on how politicians should better represent "the moderate majority."

The schedule of other programs planned by the Institute this spring follows. Please visit www.siu.edu/~ppi for information on additional events and updates on dates and times.

Friday, Feb. 16

• Employing Graduates with Disabilities (co-sponsored with Disability Support Services), 9 a.m.-2 p.m., Student Health Center. A conference exploring the barriers and incentives for employers to hire college graduates with disabilities, including a presentation on employment models that work and new technology that allows disabled persons to make valuable contributions in the workplace.

Monday, Feb. 19

• Lecture by Art Turner, 7 p.m., Student Center Auditorium. Rep. Turner, D-Chicago, elected 13 times to the Illinois House of Representatives, serves as the deputy majority leader.

Saturday, March 24

• Youth Government Day, 9 a.m.-2 p.m., Springfield. The Institute's seventh annual Youth Government Day program features keynote addresses by Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan and Rep. Aaron Schock, R-Peoria. Breakout sessions feature Luz Lopez, executive assistant to Illinois Senate President Emil Jones, DeJuan Kea, government relations coordinator for the Illinois Principals Association, and students and staff from the Mikva Challenge, a program aimed at getting Chicago area high school students to participate in the democratic process.

Monday, April 2

• Lecture by Barbara Flynn Currie, 7 p.m., Student Center Ballroom D. First elected to the Illinois legislature in 1979, Rep. Currie, D-Chicago, has served as the majority leader in the Illinois House of Representatives since 1997. Her election to the post makes her the highest-ranking female in the history of the state legislature.

Wednesday, May 2

• Maya Angelou (co-sponsored with Student Programming Council and others), 7:30 p.m., Student Center Ballrooms. Angelou is a remarkable Renaissance woman who is hailed as one of the great voices of contemporary literature.

gov edgar

Gov. Jim Edgar


U.S. Sen. Ben Nelson

whitman christine todd

Gov. Christine Todd Whitman