The U.S.’s longest-serving legislative leader and one of the nation’s last political chiefs are fighting to keep his job as more and more Democrats say they won’t support another cycle amid a swirling federal inquiry. he charged several confidentialists.
Illinois House Speaker Mike Madigan has held the presidency for the past 37 years, which was only interrupted by two years of Republican scrutiny in the mid-1990s. He retained power by carefully handing over his constituency, the Chicagoland Democrats, who make up the majority of the State House electorate.
But now Madigan’s future is in danger. Nineteen of the 73 Democrats who took the oath next month have publicly stated that they will not support Madigan for another term, which is enough to deny him the 60 votes needed to win the election.
“The first question was whether there was a clear and unshakable group that would prevent Madigan from getting 60 votes,” said MP Bob Morgan (D), one of 19 who said he would not support the incumbent. “I think the question has been answered – the answer is yes.”
In nearly half a century of legislation, Madigan has built a unique power base in the state – so much so that former Governor Bruce Rauner (R) called Madigan a de facto CEO while the two of them fought a bitter budget battle.
“He’s the most powerful member of the state’s legislature,” said Dick Simpson, a former Chicago hermit and politician at the University of Illinois at Chicago. “He checks to see if the legislation is heard or not, and usually whether it is passed or not. He plays a central role in state governance and was under both Democratic and Republican governors. “
But seizing Madigan’s power began to slip a few years ago after the “Me too” scandal involving one of his most important helpers. It deteriorated further when federal authorities investigated the lobbying of one of the state’s largest public utilities, the Commonwealth Edison, and its relationship to the Madigan machine.
A close Madigan confidant, Michael McClain, and three other people associated with the company on Wednesday did not plead guilty in federal court to operating a bribery system to obtain pardon from Madigan. Federal agents searched the investigation in at least nine homes and offices last year.
Madigan has not been charged with a crime. He denied the infringement. In November, he said he would appoint a new president as president.
“The decision on the next speaker for the House of Illinois will have to be made in the board after the issues facing our state and the qualifications of the candidates have been fully discussed,” Madigan said in a statement. “I plan to be a candidate for the speaker and have confirmed that I will continue to enjoy support from a significant part of the Democratic House Group.”
A Madigan spokesman, who was asked to comment, said he had nothing to add to his statement.
Recent allegations against his companions have further shaken Madigan’s support. Kathleen Willis, president of the State House Democratic Caucasus, was the first member of the Madigan leadership group to say she opposes his re-election.
“I definitely feel that our House of Representatives is having a very hard time at the upcoming Legislative Session and we need to put the distraction caused by the Madigan MP behind us and move forward to improve the state of Illinois,” Willis wrote. our colleagues on Tuesday. “We need to tackle Covid-19 and health, eradicate systemic racism, ethical reform and protect the services the state provides to the most vulnerable.”
Disgusting Democrats, however, are struggling with the problem that an alternative candidate has not yet emerged. Up to a dozen members could consider their own offer if Madigan surrendered and the battle for the presidency would reveal flaws between a democratic electorate divided by race, ideology, and generational lines.
“There’s no agreement yet on who will replace him or even a frontrunner,” Simpson said. “It will be free for everyone because there is no obvious person who would have stated it.”
Madigan is also president of the Illinois Democratic Party, for which he is also seeking re-election next year.
When lawmakers take the oath on January 13, their first rules of procedure will elect a new president. If no candidate reaches 60 votes, Madigan will retain the title, although he will have no official authority; the House will instead be run by Secretary of State Jesse White (D) until someone reaches the 60 votes needed to win the House Speaker.
Observers say the result of the deadlock house could be chaos for months if Madigan refuses to agree – when a global epidemic has infected nearly three-quarters of a million Illinois and killed more than 13,000.
“Many of us want to adopt comprehensive social equality reforms, or we need to fight climate change, or we need to support small businesses that are suffering. We have a huge budget problem right now,” Morgan said. “And we can’t handle that if there is a person who believes that power is the most important issue for the state.”