Michael Madigan Is the King of Illinois
The Democrat has ruled the statehouse for decades. At age 71, he’s as powerful as ever. But his latest moves make you wonder: What does Madigan really want?
By James Ylisela Jr.
Madigan had clearly been mulling the move for some time. She had been stockpiling campaign contributions: $4.8 million worth, nearly a third of it raised in the first half of 2013. And she was lining up future commitments among the sharpest political minds around, according to several people familiar with the campaign’s outreach. Polls pegged her as the clear front-runner, with a commanding lead (2 to 1, in one poll) over Quinn, as well as over any of the four likely Republican nominees in next fall’s general election. The Madigan camp had even started planning a big announcement, according to a campaign insider.
There was only one not-so-teensy-weensy problem: Could she be governor of Illinois if her father, Michael Madigan, remained speaker of its House of Representatives? While not expressly prohibited by law, such a situation would be unprecedented. Not to mention the fact that the obvious familial conflict of interest would serve as catnip to political reporters nationwide, to whom “corruption” follows “Illinois” as surely as discounts follow Christmas.
Privately, Lisa was concerned. She and her campaign treasurer, Gina Natale, began quietly calling some big donors, asking if they found it problematic for one Madigan to be governor while the other was speaker. (Yes, say two people who were called and who do not wish to be identified because they do not want to anger Lisa—or her father. But neither said that it would be a campaign ender for her, either. With Quinn’s public approval numbers in the toilet, the field of Republicans fairly weak, and an electorate well used to political nepotism, they felt she could overcome the issue.
Publicly, Lisa twisted herself into extraordinary knots to deal with the daddy question.
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