not just the Republicans who are on the verge of
irrelevance in Springfield. So, too, is Democratic
Governor Rod Blagojevich.
Blagojevich's arch-foe, Illinois House Speaker
Mike Madigan, wins a veto-proof super majority in
the House -- with a net pickup of just four
Republican-held House seats -- and if a few
anti-Blagojevich Democrats (or Republicans) win
Illinois Senate seats, Madigan will be the
"Super Speaker" and the undisputed boss
of Illinois politics, and Blagojevich will be the
neutered, irrelevant governor.
would be inaccurate to tab Blagojevich as a
political lame duck. Despite job approval that
barely exceeds 20 percent, he is eligible to run
for re-election, as Illinois has no term limits.
It would be unfair to class Blagojevich as a
political dead duck. Despite at least a dozen
federal and state investigations into job
favoritism and "pay to play"
contributions, the governor has not been indicted,
but few doubt that it eventually will happen. A
Madigan super majority, however, coupled with the
loss by Blagojevich ally Emil Jones of his 37-22
super majority in the Senate, would make the
governor a neutered duck.
takes a 60 percent vote in both chambers to
override a gubernatorial veto or to pass any bill
or state budget in an overtime session, which
begins on July 1. Last year, due to the squabbling
between Madigan and Blagojevich, the overtime
session lasted a record 6 months, until Dec. 31.
Madigan has a 67-51 Democratic majority, and he
would need a 71-47 margin or better after the 2008
election to totally dominate the House during the
2009-10 session. In the Senate, Jones' 37-22
margin gives him a super majority with just one
vote to spare.
result is that Jones can now pass Blagojevich's
bills, such as his health care initiative, in the
Senate, and a veto cannot be overridden in the
House because of Blagojevich's alliance with
Republican House minority leader Tom Cross, who
detests Madigan's dictatorial propensities. A
71-47-plus Madigan House majority in 2009, coupled
with either a 36-23 or less Senate majority for
Jones or the election or emergence of two or three
pro-Madigan state senators, would reverse the
situation. Then the Senate couldn't pass the
governor's bills in overtime, and the House could
override his vetoes.
that occurs, the legislatures' 2009-10 session
will be super gridlock.
date, 11 individuals have been indicted in various
kickback schemes to raise campaign dollars for the
governor, including fund-raising pals Tony Rezko
and Chris Kelly. According to the latest
disclosure filings, Blagojevich raised only $2.4
million during 2007, paid his attorneys at Winston
and Strawn $1.1 million, and owes them $960,000
more, so it will be tough to raise more dough,
especially if donors know the money is being used
to keep the governor out of jail. Blagojevich
won't have a $25 million war chest going into
2010. To be frank, the governor will be lucky to
raise another $250,000.
fact, the joke around Springfield is that George
Ryan should make an informal dedication of his
cell at the Oxford, Wis., federal prison,
christening it the "Illinois Room."
"Keep the bed warm," they josh, based on
the view that by the time Ryan is out in 2012,
Blagojevich will be in.
the Republicans, who have primary elections
between candidates who compete to be the most
politically orthodox, meaning socially and
fiscally conservative, Madigan recruits and funds
Democrats who are the most demographically
electable, regardless of ideology.
Republican-dominated 1991 remap resulted in a
67-51 Democratic House and a 32-27 Republican
Senate in 1992. The Republicans gained 14 seats in
1994 and took a 65-53 House majority, ousting
Madigan as speaker, and a 33-26 Senate majority.
Ever wily, Madigan targeted Republican seats in
the south Cook County suburbs, ran conservative
Democrats, and won back seven seats, making
himself speaker again. Madigan picked up two more
seats in 1998, one in historically Republican
McHenry County, for a 62-56 majority. There was no
change in 2000.
2002 remap, created by Madigan, ballooned the
House majority to 66-52, taking several Republican
seats in east Lake County with female candidates.
Madigan won two seats in Will County in 2004 but
lost some Downstate seats for a 65-53 majority. He
picked up a seat in 2006, and a Republican
defection in 2007 upped his majority to 67-51.
Since Madigan recruits and funds his candidates,
the new state representative invariably does (and
votes) like he or she is told, but given the
governor's antics, state representatives don't
even have to be told to vote with the speaker.
is targeting seven seats for 2008, and he must win
five. Here's an early analysis:
District (Park Ridge, Des Plaines): Republican
Rosemary Mulligan is a perfect fit for this
upscale, socially moderate district. She has won
consistently since 1992, and she had no opponent
in 2006. She is pro-choice on abortion, pro-gun
control, pro-gay rights, and fiscally
conservative, but she has major baggage: She's a
Republican, and the local Republican organization
voters be incensed about Democratic corruption in
Chicago, Cook County and Illinois? "No,"
said Mulligan, of Des Plaines. "Voters are
angry about Bush, and they might vote against any
and every Republican."
foe is Park Ridge attorney Aurora Austriaco, who
will be lavishly funded by Madigan and the trial
lawyers. Through Dec. 31 Austriaco raised $51,039,
to Mulligan's $28,810. Austriaco can't be any
more liberal than Mulligan, nor can she criticize
Mulligan's anti-Blagojevich votes on spending and
budget matters, but the poisonous epithet is
"Republican." Austriaco will cloak
herself in that wonderful word: change. She will
outspend, out-campaign and be more visible than
Mulligan. John Kerry won the district in 2004 with
50.1 percent of the vote, and it probably will go
Democratic for president by 55 percent or more in
2008. The incumbent is very much at risk. Outlook:
District (Mount Prospect, Elk Grove): Republican
Carolyn Krause has, like Mulligan, served since
1992. She is retiring. George Bush got 51.1
percent of the vote in the district in 2004. The
Democrats have fielded a strong contender in Mark
Walker, a ferocious campaigner who will emulate
his mentor, state Senator Dan Kotowski (D-33), who
did door-to-door campaigning nonstop for 2 years
and won an upset in 2006. Kotowski is running for
re-election in 2008. The outlook: Edge to Walker.
District (Peoria suburbs): Republican Aaron Schock,
age 26, is running for Congress; Kerry won the
district with 59.8 percent of the vote in 2004.
Both Democratic primary candidates, Jehan Gordon
and Allen Mayer, are flawed. Mayer, a county board
member, was once suspended from his job in the
state comptroller's office for misconduct, while
Gordon, age 26, has been arrested for shoplifting
and driving without a license, and she falsely
claimed to have graduated from the University of
Illinois. The Republican candidate is Cindy Ardis
Jenkins, the sister of Peoria's mayor. The
District (Champaign-Urbana suburbs, Rantoul,
Danville, Vermillion County): Republican Bill
Black is retiring after 22 years in a 58.6 percent
Bush district. Danville Mayor Scott Eisenhauer is
the Republican nominee. No Democrat filed, but
Democrats can name a candidate later, and they
apparently have settled on Lori DeYoung, a
Vermillion County Board member. Outlook:
District (Elgin, Carpentersville): Republican Ruth
Munson won by 1,137 votes, with 53.5 percent of
the total cast, in 2006, in an area with an
exploding Hispanic population. Her 2008 Democratic
foe is Keith Farnham, a former Republican.
District (Glenview, parts of Skokie, Morton Grove,
Wilmette): Republican Beth Coulson also suffers
from the "Dirty Word Syndrome." Her
district went 58.8 percent for Kerry in 2008. Like
Mulligan, she is a social liberal, and the worst
that can be said of her is that she is a
Republican. Democrat Dan Biss will spend big to
beat her. She won by 666 votes in 2002 and by
7,101 votes in 2006. The outlook: Coulson favored.
District (Rockford suburbs, Belvedere): Republican
Ron Wait, first elected in 1982, is at the end of
his shelf life. He won by 1,383 votes, getting
51.8 percent of the total cast, in 2006. His 2008
foe is Greg Tuite. The outlook: This is a 59.1
percent Bush district, but Wait is a loser just
waiting for an election.
Republicans are sure to pick up the 107th District
(Salem, Mount Vernon) seat vacated by Democrat
Kurt Granburg, where John Cavaletto, who lost by
126 votes in 2006, will win, and they are
targeting west suburban Republican-to-Democrat
switchers Fred Crespo in the 44th District
(Hoffman Estates, Schaumburg) and Paul Froehlich
in the 56th District (Roselle, Schaumburg). Their
candidate against Crespo, who won by 915 votes in
2006, is Peggy Brothman; against Froehlich, a
conservative, anti-abortion, anti-gay rights
Republican who switched in 2007, it's Anita
Forte-Scott, a library trustee. Froehlich is
outlook: Madigan will keep iron control of the
Illinois House. Republicans will lose several
seats, and a Madigan "super-majority" is