use a metaphor, the 2010 Illinois governor's race
is all about who will be the ultimate "tumor
recent memorandum concerning the possible
impeachment of Democratic Governor Rod
Blagojevich, prepared by the legislative staff of
Illinois House Democratic Speaker Mike Madigan,
stated that "criminal activity" in the
Blagojevich Administration has been
"proven" and is now a "tumor"
on the state's body politic.
memo further argued that impeachment is feasible,
for three reasons:
that the federal investigation into alleged bribes
for jobs involving Blagojevich, his wife and his
campaign committee has "impaired" his
ability to govern. The recent plea of Ali Ata, who
gave Blagojevich $125,000 in campaign
contributions and got a $127,000-a-year state job,
"directly implicates" the governor, the
memo said, adding that "(Blagojevich) is not
an innocent victim of circumstances."
that Blagojevich has "violated his oath of
office" by "operating outside the law
and the Illinois Constitution." The memo
cites the governor's role in the General
Assembly's appropriation process, which is
restricted to vetoes or line item vetoes. Instead,
the governor, by executive order, expanded funding
for Family Care and "swept"
legislatively earmarked funds and spent them.
Also, he failed to comply with subpoenas.
third, that Blagojevich has "withdrawn"
from the legislative process and is "hunkered
down" and "hiding" from the public.
these impeachable offenses?
have no proof yet that the governor committed a
criminal offense," said state Senator Ira
Silverstein (D-8). "He won't be impeached.
It's simply a threat (by Madigan) to get his
U.S. Constitution, in Article II, Section 4,
specifies that federal officials may be impeached
for "treason, bribery, or other high crimes
and misdemeanors." The Illinois Constitution,
however, is vague. Under Article IV, Section 14,
the Illinois House is accorded the sole power to
"conduct an investigation to determine the
existence of cause for impeachment."
Impeachable offenses are not stipulated.
only guidance, should Blagojevich be investigated,
is found in Article V, Section 8, which states
that the governor shall "have supreme
executive power" and "shall be
responsible for the faithful execution of the
if an Illinois House investigative committee finds
that Blagojevich has failed to faithfully execute
the laws and cites specific statutes, then
impeachment is a possibility. It would require a
majority vote of the House, where Democrats hold a
67-51 majority, and then a trial, presided over by
Republican Illinois Supreme Court Chief Justice
Bob Thomas, in the Illinois Senate, where
Democrats have a 37-22 majority. The votes of
two-thirds of the 59 senators, or 39, would be
needed for impeachment -- which would require all
22 Republicans and 17 of 37 Democrats. "As of
now that won't happen," Silverstein said.
the House, with 118 members, it would take a
simple majority, or 60 votes, to impeach the
governor. The 67 Democrats, many derisively
referred to as "Madigan Monkeys," could
supply the votes for impeachment, or the 51
Republicans plus nine Democrats could provide the
votes. Why would any state representative want to
go on record as opposing the removal of a governor
who had a 54 percent disapproval rating, according
to an April Ipsos Public Affairs poll, and a 64
percent disapproval rating, according to a May
state Representative Jack Franks (D-63) of
McHenry, a Madigan ally and a fierce critic of
Blagojevich, whom he calls a "congenital
liar," said that he expects House
Republicans, led by Tom Cross, to "do their
utmost" to block or delay impeachment.
Franks, who is pondering a run for governor in
2010, stopped short of calling Cross a Blagojevich
apologist or a covert ally, but he noted that
Cross is working with the governor and Illinois
Senate President Emil Jones, a Blagojevich ally,
to pass a $34 billion capital plan (which Madigan
opposes) and that in 2007 the governor vetoed all
the spending, called "member
initiatives," in the districts of the 67
Democratic representatives but not in the
districts of the 51 Republicans.
Franks: "He (Cross), like Blagojevich, is
concerned about the origin of the memo, not the
just absurd," said David Dring, the press
spokesman for Cross and the House minority.
"If they want to do it, they have to votes to
do it. It is our position that we are willing to
participate in the process, and we will analyze
the evidence." As to the memo, Dring said
that it "encouraged" Democratic House
members "to lie" -- to say that
impeachment was the "right thing to do,"
to state that impeachment was their idea, not the
speaker's, and to "ignore" Illinois
Attorney General Lisa Madigan, the speaker's
daughter and a likely candidate for governor in
to Franks, a bill of impeachment could be
introduced by any member at any time, and it would
be referred to the committee of the speaker's
choice, such as the Judiciary Committee or, more
likely, the State Government Administration
Committee, which is chaired by Franks. Once the
committee conducts an investigation and passes a
bill, Madigan would call a special session of the
House to vote on the measure.
disagrees, citing a 1997 precedent, when the
Illinois House passed House Bill 89 to establish a
special investigative committee to consider the
impeachment of Supreme Court Justice James Heiple,
who had been charged with drunken driving and who
allegedly tried to use his position to intimidate
the arresting officer. The bill created a
committee of 10, with five each appointed by and
including the speaker and the minority leader, who
were co-chairs; the committee had full subpoena
power and was empowered to adopt rules and to send
a report and a recommendation to the full House.
The 1997 committee never made a recommendation on
Heiple, who retired in 2000.
said that the House Republicans would insist on a
Heiple-like committee for an impeachment of the
reality, the legislative players are being
disingenuous, and the posturing about procedure is
a subterfuge. Nobody really wants to impeach
the perspective of the Democrats -- or of Mike
Madigan -- a bill of impeachment is a splendid way
to inoculate Democratic representatives from a
voter backlash against pervasive state corruption.
By supporting impeachment, they can claim that
they voted for "tumor removal."
Madigan's goal is to get his majority through 2008
intact, and hopefully to increase it.
Blagojevich is indicted, and maybe even not then,
the Senate will not vote to convict him.
satisfies the speaker's second goal, namely, a
clear path for Lisa Madigan's nomination in 2010.
If Blagojevich is impeached in 2008 or 2009, or if
he is convicted, removed or resigns prior to the
March 2010 Democratic primary, Lieutenant Governor
Pat Quinn would assume his job. As an incumbent,
ardent reformer Quinn would be much tougher for
Lisa Madigan to beat. If Blagojevich is still
governor in 2010 and is running for renomination,
Madigan can run as the anti-Blagojevich candidate.
She could make the primary a referendum on the
governor, with herself as the alternative,
Quinn is governor, or it's a one-on-one
Quinn-Madigan primary, she would have to find
another theme, and Quinn would persuasively blast
the father-daughter team as concentrating too much
power in one family.
Madigans want the "tumor" to remain
alive, growing and malignant until 2010.
likewise, want to see Blagojevich twist in the
wind for a while. Having been discredited because
their own governor (George Ryan) was indicted and
convicted, Republicans want to see a bit of slime
and shame attach to the Democrats. Unlike the
Democrats, however, Republicans don't have a
throw-him-under-the-bus mentality. They refused to
consider impeaching Ryan back in 2001, when it
would have distanced their party from the
governor. Even now, with George Bush's widespread
unpopularity, Republicans timidly refuse to utter
Republicans' best-case scenario would be a 2009
indictment of the governor, a Nixonian "I am
not a crook" posture by Blagojevich, a trial
some time after the primary in 2010, and a
re-election campaign by the obdurate incumbent.
That would mean a nasty and expensive three-way
Democratic primary between Blagojevich, Madigan
and Quinn, in which the latter two would furiously
compete for the "reform" mantle and
excoriate the governor. If Quinn won, the speaker
would sulk. If Madigan won, the Republicans would
parrot Quinn's attacks on dad and daughter.
if Blagojevich were convicted some time in 2010,
after a long and well publicized trial, it could
create a perfect storm, enabling any credible
Republican to win the governorship. But this is
certain: Impeachment is a perfectly good idea, but
a perfectly bad option for everybody except Quinn,
who wants to be governor. It won't happen.