Lisa Madigan is one of the few adults in Springfield. On Monday she announced that she would not run for governor of Illinois citing the inherent conflict of concentrating too much political power in one family.
Her father, longtime Speaker of the House Mike Madigan, is arguably the most powerful politician in Illinois. Had Lisa Madigan run for governor, ironically her father would have been her biggest hurdle.
Although powerful, Mike Madigan is hardly popular. With the state of Illinois on the brink of financial disaster, he has been largely absent in negotiating any compromise to the pension crisis basically providing the Governor and the State Senate his bill or no bill at all. Last month, Mike Madigan refused to attend a meeting of Democratic legislators to try to work a compromise on the pension mess. The most powerful politician without a cell phone was out of state and unable to be disturbed with a pension mess that is costing taxpayers millions of dollars a day.
Recently, it came to light that Speaker Madigan may have used his office and influence to help obtain a METRA job for a political friend and gain a raise for another. Former Metra CEO Alex Clifford’s refusal of Madigan’s overture may have cost Mr. Clifford his job, although his $718,000 severance package (along with a confidentiality agreement) helped Mr. Clifford comfortably land on his feet.
Ultimately a run for governor by Lisa Madigan would have turned into an all out race against her father, Michael. The conflict of interest she cites as her reason to not run– would have been well spelled out in any campaign against her. And all of the other Alex Cliffords hidden in Michael Madigan’s vast closet would have come out. Illinois Democrats are beginning to tire of Madigan rule– otherwise Lisa would have run for governor. With her on the sidelines, the only person sniping at her father will be Governor Quinn. With her in the race, half of the party would have been openly gunning for her old man while the other half would have been “unnamed sources” providing Madigan skeletons.
I applaud Lisa, because although she could have won the election, she actually told the truth (refreshing isn’t it). It is not in Illinois’ best interest to have that much power around one Thanksgiving table. But it is also too bad because she would have made a good governor.
Maybe Lisa bowing out is a pragmatic move. Who really wants to run Illinois? It would be like taking over for Captain Edward Smith after the Titanic clipped an iceberg. It might be too late.
So now what? On the Democratic side we have a beatable incumbent– Governor Quinn. Quinn, although it seems like he tries to do the right thing (state unions, pensions, marriage equality, and conceal and carry to cite examples), is just unable to lead. Part of that is Speaker Madigan and John Cullerton not giving him many opportunities for victories. But given he has a Democratic supermajority and still can’t get pension reform done, that failure– although not all his own– must lie with him.
Also running is Bill Daley, the former White House Chief of Staff and United States Secretary of Commerce, he is still best known as Mayor Richard Daley’s little brother. In Illinois, his name will be his undoing. I understand candidates want name recognition, but Daley is a name that has lost political luster. The name is an absolute liability outside of Chicago and inside, the name is not popular enough to make up for lost DuPage and Lake County votes. Inside Chicago word association games when the first word is “Daley,” the next words are “parking meters”half of the time. Not the legacy the mayor– nor his family– wanted; but certainly the legacy he deserves.
With these beatable Democratic primary candidates, look for a number of others to throw their hats in the ring. Chicago State Senator Kwame Raoul’s name has gained more recognition over the last 12 months and could make a run– although I don’t think he could piece together a statewide coalition to win a winnable primary. Another option is David Hoffman, who in 2010 ran a statewide primary campaign against Alexi Giannoulias. Would he become the favorite in a race against old political hats Quinn and Daley?
Alternatively, maybe Lisa Madigan realized 2014 will belong to Republicans. Considering Democrats have– unfettered from Republican opposition–run Illinois into the ground, hopefully the voters will look for new leadership. On the Republican side, look for DuPage Republicans to get behind Kirk Dillard. Had DuPage Republicans not got into a circular firing squad with five candidates in the 2010 primary field, our state would not be dealing with Democratic mismanagement under Pat Quinn today. DuPage Republicans won’t allow that to happen again (I hope). With Dillard officially joining the race Tuesday, look for him to handily beat Republican opposition, which currently is made up of Bill Brady, who lost the 2010 general Election to Quinn and beat Dillard by less than 300 votes in 2010 GOP primary; Dan Rutherford, the current Illinois treasurer; and Bruce Rauner a rich venture capitalist.
If we had to vote today, my vote would go to Kirk Dillard. Obviously, we have well over a year until we have to make the decision, although it is only seven short months until the primaries are here. The way Democrats have not only run our state into the ground but have steadfastly refused to change course, it’s likely I’ll pull a GOP ballot come next spring. The way things are going in Springfield, the election can’t get here fast enough
Filed under: Illinois Politics