Saturday, December 17, 2016

Give it up! We’re keeping Madigan; we'll see if that's for better or worse

There’s one political prediction I feel confident in making – come Jan.11, 2017, the Illinois House of Representatives will convene for the beginning of a new two-year session, and as its first official act will choose state Rep. Michael Madigan, D-Chicago, to be its leader.
MADIGAN: He's returning, for good or bad

People of a political bent who are concocting scenarios by which Illinois House members dump Madigan, who has been leader of the House for all but two years since the early 1980s, are quite possibly more out of touch than those who are expecting the Electoral College to dump on Donald Trump come Monday.

BUT THEN AGAIN, I’m skeptical that the leadership of the Illinois Republican Party, which for years has been trying to demonize the Madigan name and has stepped up their efforts in recent weeks, would want to have anybody else as their opposition besides the long-time “Mr. Speaker.”

Who else could they spew hostile rhetoric against and find anyone foolish enough to believe it? Would their trash talk seem anything but laughable against a House speaker Barbara Flynn Currie or Lou Lang?

I think that for Gov. Bruce Rauner to have a chance of overcoming the hostile attitude toward himself that has developed in Chicago and surrounding suburbs, he needs to have an equal “demon,” so to speak.

Otherwise, a Rauner re-election bid for 2018 would be doomed to defeat. But with a Madigan who gets the blame for favoring Chicago over all else in Illinois, it becomes a political brawl.

ONE THAT COULD, quite possibly, become as nasty and ugly as the recently-completed Clinton/Trump brawl became.
DRURY: Not likely to beat the Speaker

An Illinois version – Rauner, or whomever the Democrats wind up nominating for governor who the party will try to turn into a Madigan lackey.

There actually is a St. Louis Metro East-area legislator named Scott Drury, D-Highwood, who is trying to talk himself up as an alternate choice to Madigan for House speaker. Although I’m skeptical that any significant number (or any, actually) of Democrats would defect from Madigan to back him.
RAUNER: He needs a foe if  he's to win in '18

One thing I remember being told by Democratic legislators back in my day of covering the General Assembly is that Madigan usually doesn’t order his caucus on how to vote.

EXCEPT FOR WHEN it comes to their vote for House speaker. In exchange for his financial and staffing support in getting them elected to their legislative seats, they must agree to back him as their leader.

Anybody who dared take his money THEN vote against him for speaker would find themselves in a bigger hole than did soon-to-be former state Rep. Ken Dunkin, D-Chicago, who couldn’t even win his primary re-election bid this year.

There’s also the comments made this week by state Rep. LaShawn Ford, D-Chicago, that he’d be willing to consider term limits for the House speaker’s post IF it meant that government officials could finally move forward on approving budgets for state government – rather than the year-and-a-half of nothingness we have experienced.

Republican spokesman Steven Yaffe said Friday, “it’s encouraging to see Democrats break away from Mike Madigan’s irrational opposition to any form of term limits and his unwillingness to compromise.”

WHO WOULD YAFFE be able to issue such statements against if Madigan wasn’t present. Particularly when he adds, “Democrats and Republicans alike should work together to pass bipartisan reforms that the people of Illinois are demanding.”
TRUMP: Who says 'like' is needed?

It sounds nice, but anybody with sense realizes is nonsense – what Rauner wants a Legislature that will reaffirm his own partisan goals; as in Democrats who will shut up and keep their objections to themselves and do what they’re told!

Which was pretty much the attitude in place during 1995-96 when Madigan was reduced to the role of minority leader and the Republican legislative majority that couldn’t sustain itself went out of its way to demean urban interests in this state.

I don’t doubt the people of central and Southern Illinois would be pleased. But election trends (look at the Democratic gains in Illinois in what otherwise was a dismal Dem election cycle of ’16) show that if this truly becomes a Madigan vs. Rauner, Who Do You Hate the Most-type of election, the governor could find himself on the short end – regardless of his personal wealth and all the votes he thinks it will buy!


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