Fighting for His Political Life, Illinois Guv Says Dem Rival ‘Ought to Be Ashamed of Himself’

ABC News’ Teddy Davis and Matt Loffman report: Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn (D) is fighting for his political life. Quinn, who took over for Rod Blagojevich when the former governor was removed from office, finds himself in a tight race with Democratic Comptroller Dan Hynes in advance of Tuesday’s Illinois primary.

One of the ways that Hynes has made it a close race has been by airing a television ad featuring decades-old video of the late Chicago Mayor Harold Washington calling Quinn "a totally and completely undisciplined individual."

Watch it HERE .

The footage was filmed in 1987 after Washington, Chicago's first black mayor, fired Quinn as his City Hall revenue director.

In the video, Washington slams Quinn and said appointing him in the first place was a terrible mistake.

"I was nuts to do it. I must have been blind or staggering," said Washington, who died about two weeks after the interview. "Pat Quinn is a totally and completely undisciplined individual who thinks this government is nothing but a large easel by which he can do his (public relations) work. He almost created a shambles in that department."

Quinn's camp is livid about the ad because Hynes’ father, 19th Ward power broker Tom Hynes, undermined Washington. The elder Hynes left the Democratic Party and for a time ran as a third-party candidate against Washington in his 1987 re-election campaign at a time when racial tensions ran high in the Windy City.

During a debate which took place Thursday evening on WVON radio, Quinn accused Hynes of trying to create racial divisions.

“Mr. Hynes ought to be ashamed of himself,” said Quinn.

Quinn said that when he was a young man, he fought for civil rights and backed Martin Luther King Jr. He compares that to Hynes supporting his father in an attempt to unseat Chicago's first black mayor 23 years ago.

Hynes said during the debate that there is nothing racially divisive about the ad. He says it simply raises questions about Quinn's ability.

In private, Quinn associates say that the governor was fired not because he was doing a poor job but because he was doing too good of a job looking into government waste. The Quinn camp feels like it cannot come out and say this explicitly, however, because of the revered place that Mayor Washington holds with Democratic primary voters.

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