Friday, November 9, 2012

Dumping the “Dump Madigan” people

I’m old enough to remember the two-year period in the mid-1990s when Republicans controlled everything about state government.
MADIGAN: We didn't dump him

From governor through all the state constitutional offices to the leadership of the General Assembly, the GOP had the muscle and they were more than willing to use it to push an ideological agenda – while also going out of their way to snub “Illinois House Minority Leader Michael Madigan, D-Chicago” every chance they could get.

WHICH IS WHY I find the upcoming political situation in Illinois to be hilarious – sort of!

Democratic Party officials have held control of state government since 2002 (even though we have a Republican for a state treasurer and Judy Baar Topinka as state comptroller these days), but their role has been strengthened in a sense.

The elections held Tuesday saw an increase in the number of Democrats who will serve in the General Assembly. For the next two years beginning in January, both the state Senate and Illinois House of Representatives will have three-fifths majorities of Democrats.

It means we’re in veto-proof territory for the Democrats. The legislative leaders, if they can keep their caucuses united, can do what they want.

AND IF GOV. Pat Quinn has the unmitigated gall (in their minds) to think he can use his veto power to reject things (such as a Chicago casino and other gambling expansion), they’ll ram it down his throat harder than the GOP used to dump on Democrats back in the old days two decades ago.

This all comes about despite the fact that the Illinois Republican Party conducted its campaigns these days with a common theme – Dump Madigan.

They tried to associate the name “Mike Madigan” with everything they think is wrong with Illinois these days. They tried to push the theme that voting for a Democrat to serve in the Legislature (not just the Illinois House) was really a vote for Madigan – because all Democrats do exactly what Madigan tells them!

The voters apparently didn’t buy into it, because we got more Democrats in the Legislature – although I’m sure the Republicans who did get elected are going to feel a sense of moral outrage and will yell and scream for the next two years about the great injustice of everything.

THERE’S ALREADY SOME political trash talk coming from within the GOP partisans that party Chairman Pat Brady ought to be dumped as a result, with some planning a big announcement on Friday to that effect.

“Tuesday’s election results prove that Brady is unfit for the job,” Republican activist William J. Kelly said. “He has been outmatched and outwitted by House Speaker Michael Madigan.”

In short, we have the surviving Republicans peeved, and the potential for Democratic infighting.

The very thought of it gives me a headache. Although I’m sure Democratic Party leadership is snickering, because all that yelling and screaming won’t stop a veto-proof majority from doing what it wants.

FOR HIS PART, Quinn is taking the opposite approach. He’s telling reporter-type people these days that he’s pleased with what ought to be solid support from the Legislature.

Except it isn’t!

This is a Legislature that is skeptical and distrusting of Quinn. I have heard long-time Democratic legislators tell me that the governor is someone who is erratic in his behavior and can’t be trusted to support them.

So they feel no compulsion to back him on anything.

THIS COULD TURN into a two-year battle between the governor and Madigan, paired with state Senate President John Cullerton, D-Chicago, for who’s really in charge. It might not get as ugly as the days of Madigan versus then-Gov. Rod Blagojevich (that bordered on psychotic). But it won’t be pretty.

If anything, it probably shows the difference between the two parties. Democrats really aren’t capable of the kind of unified front that Republicans put on back in 1995 – they can’t “play nice” with each other on any level.

There won’t be any ideological agenda forced onto Illinois, no matter how much some people want to fear that it is inevitable.

If anything, Illinois voters rejected that concept when they had enough sense to take the whole “Dump Madigan” concept and treat it as a joke.


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