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items tagged with Michael Madigan

Big Money Lines Up Behind Speaker’s Primary Opponent
Written By: Jeff Ignatius
Section: Commentary/Politics

Category: Illinois Politics

2016-02-28 11:13:00

A name from the past has been leading the charge for Jason Gonzales’ Democratic-primary campaign against Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan.

Blair Hull, the hugely wealthy but unsuccessful 2004 Democratic candidate for U.S. Senate, directly accounts for $100,000 of the $300,000 that the Illinois United for Change PAC has raised since late January (and maybe double that, because it’s unclear who controls a company responsible for another $100,000). The independent-expenditure committee has so far reported spending money only on Gonzales.

I was able to reach Hull through an intermediary to ask him why he decided to get involved against his fellow Democrat Madigan in the primary. He would only communicate by e-mail, and didn’t respond to a follow-up question.

Hull said he believes Gonzales gives the state “an opportunity for a fresh start” and predicted his candidate, an entrepreneur who received an MBA from MIT, would be a “true statesman” in the General Assembly.

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President’s Call for Compromise Only Highlights Divisions
Written By: Jeff Ignatius
Section: Commentary/Politics

Category: Illinois Politics

2016-02-14 11:02:00

Almost right from the start of his address last week to the Illinois General Assembly, President Barack Obama seemed to admit – discussing the need for a more-civil politics – that he probably wouldn’t sway his audience, which has been bickering amongst itself for over a year.

Obama talked about his first Illinois Senate speech, after which Republican Senate President Pate Philip “sauntered” over to his desk, slapped him on the back, and said, “Kid, that was a pretty good speech. In fact, I think you changed a lot of minds. But you didn’t change any votes.”

Frankly, after months without any progress in Springfield, I’d settle for a few changed minds. But I’m not even sure a single mind was changed. Instead, the speech gave people on both entrenched sides just enough ammo to bolster their cases against the other.

Predictably, Obama weighted the argument in favor of his own policy views, bringing up his support for union collective bargaining, which Republican Governor Bruce Rauner has repeatedly attacked.

But he threw just enough bones at the Republicans to allow them to issue statements such as the one from GOP state Representative Barb Wheeler: “The president reiterated what the governor and others have said before, [that] without compromise we cannot govern.”

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Rauner’s “Wedge” Pledge Has Yet to Divide Democrats
Written By: Jeff Ignatius
Section: Commentary/Politics

Category: Illinois Politics

2016-02-07 11:13:26

Last week, a reporter said to Governor Bruce Rauner that Secretary of State Jesse White had suggested that Rauner bring in former governors, including George Ryan, to help break the long governmental impasse that has prevented the state from having a budget for more than seven months.

Rauner laughed and said, “Uh, wow.”

The governor clearly did not take the suggestion seriously.

“I’m not gonna talk about the failures of the past that created this mess,” Rauner said through chuckles. “I focus on the future. I don’t live in the past. We’ve had failure in our elected government for decades. This mess didn’t happen overnight. And what we’re not gonna do is reproduce the dynamic that created it.” The governor laughed throughout most of that last sentence.

Bringing in graybeards has been tried before without success. Governor Rod Blagojevich asked former U.S. House Speaker Dennis Hastert and then-Southern Illinois University President Glenn Poshard to town to help him pass his massive construction proposal that Speaker Michael Madigan refused to agree to. It didn’t work. The two men left town as soon as they realized how hardened Madigan’s position had become against Blagojevich.

While former governors have been through similar troubles, nothing really compares to today’s self-inflicted disaster. Madigan and Blagojevich played hardball, but the game is exponentially meaner now.

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Rauner Bungles What Should Have Been Triumphant
Written By: Jeff Ignatius
Section: Commentary/Politics

Category: Illinois Politics

2016-01-24 11:09:09

Governor Bruce Rauner blew a perfect opportunity last week to finally drive a public wedge between Senate President John Cullerton and House Speaker Michael Madigan, to clearly put Madigan on the defensive, and to maybe finally make progress on an important issue that might save the state a billion dollars a year.

But he badly bungled the rollout of a deal with Cullerton on pension reform. Instead of describing the agreement for what it really was, Rauner greatly exaggerated its scope and portrayed it as a big defeat for AFSCME and other unions.

In reality, the deal with Cullerton (and there is still a deal with Cullerton, despite what you might be reading elsewhere) is narrow in scope and elegantly designed to put Madigan in a truly tough position.

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Governor Launches New Attacks Against Speaker, Mayor
Written By: Jeff Ignatius
Section: Commentary/Politics

Category: Illinois Politics

2016-01-10 11:20:52

“He has taught us how to deal with him,” explained one top official in Governor Bruce Rauner’s administration when asked why the governor has once again cranked up his public criticism of House Speaker Michael Madigan.

You may already know that the governor blasted both Madigan and Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel during an appearance on Dan Proft’s WIND radio program last week.

After accusing Emanuel of being “afraid” to take on Madigan, Rauner said the reason for this was self-evident: “The speaker has been the most powerful politician in the state of Illinois for decades. It’s the main reason we’re in such big trouble as a state.”

Rauner went on to essentially blame Illinois’ “long-term, slow death spiral” on Madigan and said the majority party “likes the status quo,” claiming the speaker is “not sensitive” to the real-world problems of the middle class. “He’s got a great system; he controls it. And right now they’re unwilling to change. And without change, we’ll never get a true balanced budget."

So what happened here? The governor seemed to mute his criticisms of Madigan in the closing weeks of 2015, even mostly holding his fire when Madigan skipped the last leaders’ meeting just before the holidays.

New year, new attitude, apparently.

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