Race for Ill. governor all in the family

2013-05-19T00:15:00Z 2013-05-19T17:53:55Z Race for Ill. governor all in the familyThe Associated Press The Associated Press
May 19, 2013 12:15 am  • 

SPRINGFIELD — Politics has long been a family business in Illinois, a place where who you know — and who you’re related to — matters more than most. But the family drama shaping up around the next governor’s race adds a new layer of intrigue in a Capitol already grappling with huge financial problems.

Though the election is a year away, the possible candidates include both a Daley and a Madigan — two surnames that represent the royal families of Illinois politics, the local equivalent of the Kennedys or Bushes.

One is the son and brother of the almighty former Chicago mayors. The other is the daughter of the immensely powerful speaker of the Illinois House, who has served in that role for 28 of the last 30 years and heads the state Democratic Party.

While intra-party battles aren’t uncommon in the Democratic stronghold that produced Barack Obama, the possibility that one or both heirs could challenge the incumbent governor is creating a buzz over the final weeks of the legislative session.

“When you lay it all out, you say ‘Oh my goodness,’” said Thom Serafin, a consultant and operative in Illinois politics for three decades.

Among the questions: Would voters want a Daley, youngest son of the big-city dynasty, to run the whole state? Could a daughter be governor while her father wields such great power at the Statehouse? And how much turmoil would a primary challenge to the sitting governor cause in an otherwise dominant Democratic party?

Both William Daley, the former White House chief of staff, and Lisa Madigan, the Illinois attorney general, say they haven’t decided whether to run. But both are acting a lot like candidates, and both have the potential to win.

At 46, Madigan has become one of the state’s most popular office holders, winning her last two elections by more than 30 percentage points. Her resume and forceful speaking voice show a toughness that belies her petite frame: She’s taught Zulu girls in South Africa during apartheid, started after-school programs in some of Chicago’s roughest neighborhoods and as attorney general took on now-imprisoned former Gov. Rod Blagojevich.

Her ballooning campaign fund has stirred talk about her intentions and raised questions about her father — a man often compared to a chess master for his ability to quietly outmaneuver rivals. After 42 years in the House, Michael Madigan still has a firm grip on power, and his spokesman dismissed any talk of the speaker possibly stepping down as “a lot of speculation.”

The Daley in the picture is a deal-maker in a smoother, more traditional business sense than his famously dictatorial father, Mayor Richard J. Daley, or his often tongue-tied brother, Richard M. Daley. Always well-pressed in the sharp suits of a banker and lawyer, Bill Daley — as he is typically called — helped negotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement and served as secretary of commerce under President Bill Clinton.

Daley, 64, has said he is “seriously looking” at running and has made a point of saying the state has “a problem right now in leadership at the Capitol.”

Republicans, who’ve been shut out of most of Illinois’ top political positions for the past decade, are looking at the unfolding scene with incredulity.

“I can’t understand why in a state with 13 million people, how we can’t find a couple people that aren’t related to hold some of the highest positions in state government,” state Sen. Matt Murphy said. “If you took that script to Hollywood, they would laugh you out of town. And yet here it’s a serious question.”

All the fuss over Lisa Madigan and Bill Daley threatens to overshadow Gov. Pat Quinn, the plain-spoken incumbent who inherited his job from the disgraced Blagojevich. The 64-year-old casts himself as an everyday populist determined to clean up Illinois government, yet he has some of the lowest approval ratings of any governor.

Critics say he lacks the leadership qualities for the job, and they point to Quinn’s use of a cartoon snake known as “Squeezy the Pension Python” to portray the seriousness of the state’s worst-in-the-nation pension crisis. But Quinn also boldly defied Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel by vetoing a casino for his city.

In the first three months of 2013, Madigan raised $830,000, and she has $4.3 million on hand, almost three times what Quinn reported on April 1.

“She is taking the steps necessary to ensure that she has the financial and political resources necessary for another campaign, whatever that may be,” Gina Natale, a Madigan campaign aide, said in a statement.

Daley did not respond to requests for comment.

Quinn declined to comment on the race except to say that he would be prepared for any challenger.

While the all-in-the-family field of potential candidates may seem to some like yet another Illinois political oddity, it isn’t so striking to former U.S. Sen. Adlai Stevenson III, whose own Illinois family tree includes a vice president, secretary of state and a governor.

“My father used to say he was born with an incurable, hereditary case of politics,” Stevenson said. “You’re born into a life of service, and sometimes you’re just conditioned to carry on.”

Copyright 2015 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

(8) Comments

  1. gabeski
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    gabeski - May 19, 2013 4:58 pm
    BC, your tin foil hat seems to be working fine. Chicago has never financed their own teacher pensions. They are financed the same way as the rest of the state, some of it through taxes and some through contributions from the teachers them selves. You seem to think just because you say it is, that it is, well that doesn't work with someone who has an actual working knowlege fo the facts. You may be able to convince others but, I know better.
  2. Joeswife
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    Joeswife - May 19, 2013 11:13 am
    Hey exrepub......we have a democrat there now, & we are just about at a shut down state already! So don't blame the republicans, I believe our last governor ( the one in jail) was also a democrat. In my mind being democrat or republican doesn't really matter, they are all selfish crooks!
  3. BC
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    BC - May 19, 2013 9:45 am
    That area includes not only Cook but the collar counties. Never fear, nothing down state travels north. You think it is unfair that area keep their taxes. If so you are of the same opinion as most of the population up there. Chicago finances their own teachers pension, downstate can't handle that one job with the revenue they raise. That would be just one of many big problems. You sound like the 12 year old claiming to support the family with his paper route. Try some reality, it is a good thing.
  4. gabeski
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    gabeski - May 19, 2013 8:24 am
    Nice try BC, but the truth is that, the majority of the "80% of the revenue" stays right there in chicago/cook county. If 100% of the revenue from downstate stayed down here, we would do just fine.
  5. BC
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    BC - May 19, 2013 7:53 am
    I read something interesting in an article on retirement. For all the Wisconsin worshipers, that state is consider one of the top 10 poorest states to retire. One of the biggest reasons cited was taxes. We wouldn't equal them if we doubled our tax rate, and theirs is permanent.
  6. BC
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    BC - May 19, 2013 6:14 am
    They tried that and were refused. People a lot brighter than the average arm chair whiner figured out that would leave the other 20% of us begging to be annexed by Indiana or Missouri. We can't raise enough taxes to run this state now, try it by losing 80% of the revenue and keeping the largest percent of the space. Below 80 is dependent on the majority, close to 80%, who live above that line.
  7. exrepub
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    exrepub - May 19, 2013 4:05 am
    I don't know why anyone would want to be Governor of lllinois. They would be inheriting a bigger mess than the whole country was when Obama was elected. We are past broke and no one wants to cut anything or raise taxes. What else can you do? and then think of all the past governors who have gone to jail. We definitely don't want a republican because they would try to shut down the whole state.
  8. devils_advocate
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    devils_advocate - May 19, 2013 2:00 am
    North of I-80; Chicago USA the 51st state.
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