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Doug Finke

Few surprised that Madigan retains control

Elgin senator casts the only negative vote

Elgin senator casts the only negative vote

In case you weren’t paying attention last week, a truly astounding thing happened.

House Speaker Michael Madigan, D-Chicago, was re-elected chairman of the Democratic Party of Illinois.

Yeah, it was pretty shocking, but the party’s central committee meeting in Springfield chose Madigan for another term.

Only state Sen. Michael Noland, D-Elgin, had the temerity to vote against Madigan. He would not elaborate on the reason why.

Naturally, this set off some speculation about what sort of political fate awaits Noland. A large bonfire in the House, perhaps, to dispose of bills sponsored by Noland. Perhaps an exile to a mosquito-abatement district somewhere in the suburbs.

Madigan was not ruffled, as you might imagine.

“Wherever I’ve had opposition in the Legislature or in the state Democratic Party, we’ve usually made converts of those people, because we want to work with people, and we want to move in the right direction,” Madigan said.

“So I would expect that in due time, you’ll find that Mr. Noland will want to be one of those seconding my nomination.”

Paying attention, senator?

Not such a

popular guy

I mention Madigan’s re-election as party chairman mainly to annoy those of you out there who detest Madigan. That would seem to be most of you.

A poll conducted by CapitolFax/We Ask America checked into how beloved, or not, the long-serving House speaker is with Illinoisans.

The poll found that 65 percent of Illinoisans had an unfavorable view of Madigan. That’s closing in on territory occupied by people who kick puppies.

Interestingly, the poll also found a majority of people said they would be less likely to vote for a candidate if they knew Madigan supported the candidate. This raises a couple of points.

Since Madigan is chairman of the state Democratic Party, you could argue that he supports all Democratic candidates. Does that mean, then, that voters are going to start peeling away from Democratic candidates because they know Madigan is behind the candidates?

The other point is that Republicans, for years, have tried to make Madigan an issue in local campaigns, the argument being that a Democratic candidate for the House will just end up being a Madigan stooge if elected. And yet those efforts have not been particularly effective. So has the tide finally turned on that issue now?

As for Madigan? He professed not to be surprised by the poll.

“Day in and day out, I’m always taking positions on controversial issues,” Madigan said. “I’m not surprised the poll ratings would be low.”

As an example of those controversial positions, Madigan cited pension reform. That is still not a popular issue among state workers, teachers and university workers.

Madigan believed a plan negotiated by Senate President John Cullerton, D-Chicago, with the public employee unions didn’t save enough money. Ergo, he’s viewed as the person responsible for the detested plan being forced on workers.

At the same time, Madigan is untouchable. It’s not like a state worker in Springfield has a chance to vote against him. So that compounds the feeling of frustration people have with the guy.

Might as well get used to it. It looks like he’ll be around awhile longer.

A little late

for amendment

Republican legislative leaders introduced a constitutional amendment to limit statewide officials to two terms in office.

Unfortunately, it wasn’t introduced until [last Monday], which happened to be a week the Legislature was on break. The deadline to approve amendments for the fall ballot is May 4. Plus, there is a rigid process that must be followed to approve those amendments that cannot be accelerated.

In other words, there is virtually no chance (because of time restrictions) that the amendment can get approved for the November ballot. It was something that should have been obvious when it was introduced.