Will GOP's Madigan Attacks Persuade Local Voters?

Illinois Republicans are trying to tell voters that a vote for any Democrat this fall is a vote for House Speaker Michael Madigan.

Could this be the election year in which the GOP's portrayal of Mike Madigan as the corrupt manipulator of Democratic state reps — mere marionettes who dance on strings — actually pays off?

The Southwest Side power broker is again the target of a Republican bid to tie him to the candidacies of every House Democrat in the November election, according to a report from IllinoisWatchdog.org.

A recent $100,000 union donation to Madigan and the House's failure to act on pension reform in the General Assembly is being cited as evidence of a suspicious scratching of the back on the Speaker's part. 

David Yepsen, director of the Paul Simon Public Policy Institute at Southern Illinois University-Carbondale, offered this take to a reporter for IllinoisWatchdog.org:  

“What this is, is Republicans in Illinois saying that a vote for a Democrat in the Illinois House is a vote for Mike Madigan. ...

“This is not a new tactic. What’s new here is the environment and the antipathy toward Springfield and the problems that exist. People in Illinois do know who Mike Madigan is. Maybe this is the year that (the tactic) works."

Recent history shows Madigan can be beat. 

Kelly Burke, the Evergreen Park woman who represents the 36th House District, sent Madigan's candidate packing in the 2010 Democratic primary. The two-term library board member prevailed despite the formidable arsenal of Madigan campaign workers toiling on behalf of her opponent, which included female ghost candidates with Irish surnames, efforts to smear her on her property tax payments and threats to get her law license revoked for being a tax cheat.

Such Machiavellian political moves from the Madigan camp often come into play in House races in the south suburbs and beyond. 

Elsewhere in the Southland that year, Madigan's street army circulated petitions for Molly McAvoy Flynn — a Republican — to get her on the ballot and make sure Tinley Park's Jeff Junkas spent a lot of time and money before facing off in the general election against the Democratic incumbent, Madigan's House man Rep. Kevin McCarthy (D-Orland Park). McCarthy ultimately squeaked to a win on a 4 percentage point margin.

The Republicans' goal this year is to persuade voters to liken all Democrats to Madigan, whom they portray as the ultimate corrupt politician. With four decades in the House — and three as Speaker — there's a long record of gamesmanship to reference.

There are many uncontested races in the Illinois House this year, but there are enough races at stake that Republican victories could tip the balance of power in the House — now at 63 Democrats and 54 Republicans — and wrest the Speaker's gavel from Madigan's hand.

Steve Brown, Madigan's spokesman, offered this view on GOP tactics to IllinoisWatchdog.org:

“They’ve done this for 25 years, and it’s gotten them nowhere. There’s no real change. Two years ago, they rented out billboards on the Tri-State tollway against Madigan. They were pretty expensive."

Yepsen said he doubts the accusation about the union donation and the pension vote will gain traction among voters.

"I have never heard of a voter saying, ‘I’m going to change my vote because of money somebody got.’ It just doesn’t work that way. Votes for the Legislature are about local candidates and local issues.”


Does Mike Madigan's rep factor into your vote for your local state representative? Share your view in the comments.

BUTCH September 07, 2012 at 09:38 PM
NOT QUITE! a vote for any GOP THESE DAYS is a vote to invest yer SSA MEDICARE and pensions if u are lucky to still have one after the 43 Cheney admin and Glass SIEGLE was revoked by the looters like BAIN and lyin- THE ECONOMY will only come back if the T PARTY looters leave everyone's SSA and MEDICARE alone, wake up and smell the coffee not the OXY RUSH'S PAIN MEDICATION
Kerry September 08, 2012 at 12:48 AM
I think you are off your meds.
BUTCH September 08, 2012 at 05:33 AM
Kerry not yet but if Lyin is in the drivers seat I will like most low info Murkans have to decide between the MED'S aka VOUCHER CARE - GAS or FOOD if u are a ! % or think u are u will be OK unless u have a prior condition- U must be a very low info T PARTY er never heard of Phil GRAMM the progenitor of the depression of the 21st century stay tuned u may learn something not coming from a OXY DRUGSTER! ARE U A TRADER by any chance?
John J Miller September 21, 2012 at 05:09 PM
Madigan, Zalewski, and their attorneys should be all put in jail.
Robert Jr. November 06, 2012 at 05:53 PM
The Republican party should have won this in a slam dunk election. whoever holds positions of "leadership" and power in the Republican party in Illinois and throughout the country - we need to replace them as soon as possible - they are ruining the chances for real growth and prosperity and are giving the party a bad name. Let's get some people in who represent the 70% who would easily vote Republican if there was integrity in the party leadership!


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