Wednesday, April 10, 2019

Will Lightfoot make deferential gestures to Mr. Speaker to get along?

Just a thought about what the relations will be like in coming years between Mayor-elect Lori Lightfoot and the almighty and powerful Speaker of the Illinois House – Michael Madigan.
MADIGAN: Makes conciliatory remarks

It’s probably going to be up to Lightfoot on whether she desires an antagonistic relationship with “Mr. Speaker” himself!

IF SHE IS willing to show gestures indicating that he’s the guy of prominence within Illinois state government, it would be likely that Madigan would give support to the city’s needs and desires.

Of course, one possible key is that many of the people who were inclined to vote for Lightfoot and view her mayoral election as a moment of great historic significance likely are the same people who wish that Madigan somehow could be voted out of office.

I don’t doubt that at least a few of Lightfoot’s followers eagerly would want her to be hostile and do whatever she can to undermine his political influence.

If that happens, we’re going to see a political relationship that will sour quickly – and will make us think of the “good ol’ days” (heavy sarcasm intended) when people like Bruce Rauner and Rod Blagojevich were in positions of authority.

THIS ISSUE IS coming to the forefront because Lightfoot – although she won’t actually be mayor until mid-May, is making her first trip to the Statehouse Scene in Springfield.
LIGHTFOOT: Will she retort in kind?

She’s expected to be there until Thursday, although Madigan felt the need to issue a statement Tuesday welcoming her (sort of) to the capital city.

“I’m proud to welcome Mayor-elect Lightfoot to a Capitol where women, people of color and members of the LGBTQ community (Illinois House Majority leader Greg Harris is openly gay) are serving in critical leadership roles within the Illinois House Democratic caucus,” Madigan said.

I don’t doubt he’s being sincere, in that he wants all of those groups of people to not view him with hostility. As to whether or not he really believes in Lightfoot as mayor, that remains to be seen. But as long as he doesn’t view her as “the enemy,” perhaps she won’t view him that way either.

IT SHOULD BE noted that Madigan publicly always acknowledges the significance of Chicago’s interests in defining his job. I remember back to the days of Richard M. Daley as mayor when Madigan would always downplay talk of his own political power by saying that the mayor was the number one Democratic political official.
PRITZKER: Says he'll get along fine with Lightfoot

In theory, he’s giving Lightfoot the same treatment – respecting her new job title. Will Lightfoot return the gesture?

I couldn’t help but notice comments she made recently to WTTW-TV where she talked of “not wanting to be part of the (Democratic) party apparatus,” and also hinted that perhaps Madigan has held his dual role as Illinois Democratic chairman (since 1998) for too long.

“I respect the speaker, but I believe in term limits,” Lightfoot said – a line that likely will appease the North lakefront crowd that was the base of her voter support this month but had to have Madigan and his loyalists seething deep inside.

SO WE’LL HAVE to see just what kind of relationship Lightfoot is able to create with the state government officials. For what it’s worth, Lightfoot had dinner last week with Gov. J.B. Pritzker at his Gold Coast neighborhood residence, and he says he thinks he’ll get along just great with the new mayor.
Political amateur Lightfoot gets introduction to Statehouse Scene
But just as we’re still waiting to see how well Pritzker and Madigan manage to co-exist, it will be equally intriguing to see how the Lightfoot/Madigan ties play out.

As Madigan said on Tuesday, “I believe Illinois is strongest when Chicago succeeds and when all are heard.” Which certainly is true enough. But it seems we’ll have to see for ourselves just how sincere he is, and how much Lightfoot is willing to put aside her own ego for the betterment of the public good.

And we’ll have to see what kind of reaction she has the first time someone puts a “horseshoe” before her, that so-called sandwich concoction many Springpatchers try to portray as a culinary delight!


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