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09/20/2010

The Other Madigan "Election"

 By all accounts, Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan is a cinch for re-election. 

  But the State Republican party is convinced it has a chance to take away her father Michael Madigan's title of Speaker of the Illinois House of Representatives.

  Now that more Illinois voters understand who Mr. Madigan is and the awesome power he wields in state government, republicans think the November 2, 2010 election is the time to unseat the Speaker by attacking vulnerable democratic members of the House.

 The G.O.P. is trying to cast Madigan as the ultimate political bad guy.  

  For 19 consecutive elections, the 68 year old state representative has handily won his own legislative district (22nd) on Chicago's southwest side and neighboring surburbs.  He was first elected speaker by house members of his own party in 1983 and has led the chamber's democratic majorities for all but two years (1994-96) when republicans seized control.

  But Madigan's own rise to become chairman of the Illinois Democratic Party, the election of his daughter as Attorney General, his intra-party power struggle with Rod Blagojevich (that eventually led to the former governor's impeachment) and his inability to resolve the budget crisis in a state totally controlled by democrats...has made Michael Madigan a household name.   And if you believe republican strategists, it's not a favorable name in Illinois.

  "The only way to remove Mike Madigan as speaker is to not elect Democrat lawmakers," says House Minority leader Tom Cross (R-Oswego) whose 48-member caucus is consistently overwhelmed by the the 70-member democratic majority.

  So Cross is pouring money into the campaigns of 12 republican candidates in districts currently or most recently held by democrats.  There are six targeted districts in the Chicago suburbs and another six downstate.

  If the republicans win all of their targeted seats and hold onto what they now have, it would give the G.O.P. a 60-58 edge in the chamber and Cross would become the Speaker.

  Madigan spokesman Steve Brown says the republican math is shaky.  Despite the "anti-incumbent mood" of the electorate, Brown doubted the republicans will come close to winning all 12 contested seats or holding on to every one of their current 48 seats.

   The Speaker-haters might also underestimate the many solid relationships Rep. Madigan has built during all those years in Springfield, especially with organized labor.  I attended a Painters' Union rally on the Southside of Chicago today and the applause and cheers for Madigan during his brief appearance were sincere and heartfelt.

  They obviously trust their livelihoods to Madigan's leadership and they vowed to work against the republicans trying to make him the minority leader.

   As mentioned earlier in this post,  It did happen once before to Madigan in 1994. 

   He just doesn't seem like the kind of guy to take the same fall twice.

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