In the murky, corrupt and disillusioning world of Illinois politics, the comptroller’s office is, surprisingly, a rare bright spot in the dark sea of state government. Though there is a now notorious former comptroller of the state, the current one, Dan Hynes, is almost universally regarded as a competent and good public servant, and now an Indian with an impressive record is running for the position in the 2010 election (as long as Hynes does not run for reelection). Raja Krishnamoorthi is a young politician with a sizable resume:
As Deputy Treasurer, Raja was responsible for overseeing programs in the Illinois Treasurerâ€™s Office involving the custody and administration of billions of dollars in state funds. Raja managed those programs without a hint of scandal or favoritism. Prior to his appointment as Deputy Treasurer, Raja served on the board of the Illinois Housing Development Authority (IHDA), becoming chair of its Audit Committee. During his service, IHDA helped provide thousands of low- and moderate-income families across Illinois with affordable housing. Later, Raja was appointed as a Special Assistant Attorney General to help start the public corruption unit in the Illinois Attorney Generalâ€™s Office.
Not only that, but Raja, 36 years old, grew up in local Peoria, was valedictorian at Richwoods High School, went to Princeton and Harvard Law School, and has a wife and two young sons. He is representative of the “post-doctor” Indian generation, having spent a few years in management consulting and a few years in private law practice. He’s a “longtime friend” of President Obama’s who has worked on all of his campaigns, which should help him out quite a bit here in Illinois. As people are still not sure of Hynes’ intentions and it is still a while before the 2010 election, there has not been a great deal of press coverage yet, but the Chicago Sun-Times had this nice profile of Raja a few months ago:
They used to say Illinoisans south of Interstate 80 would not vote for names like Rod Blagojevich and Barack Obama. But the voters proved themselves open-minded. How open-minded? Raja Krishnamoorthi, 35, Illinois’ former deputy treasurer, is preparing to run for state comptroller, banking on voters’ ability to appreciate his Harvard law degree and Downstate Peoria roots, even if they have trouble pronouncing his name. “I think there’s no question we’re ready for a new name: Raja — that’s what we’ll call him. It’s much easier,” said Newton Minow, the former Federal Communications Commission chairman who will chair his campaign. For the record, the last name is pronounced krish-na-MORE-thee.
Raja is much easier to pronounce, so that is probably a wise decision. The Sun-Times profile also has some interesting tidbits, including the fact that he’s not “a complete geek”:
“He was serious, earnest and hardworking, the model student,” said former classmate Mark Schauerte, an attorney who serves as treasurer of Krishnamoorthi’s exploratory committee. But Krishnamoorthi wasn’t a complete geek, Schauerte said. “We’ve all been in the same fantasy football league since high school.”