* Former Gov. Jim Edgar was asked about whether he backed the 2012 Republican campaign mantra of “Fire Madigan”…
No, it’s been the governors. I mean, the governor leads. Madigan, I think he’s probably victim to his own success and his own legend. That how powerful he is, so everybody figures he’s responsible for everything. Madigan my first four years as governor just fought me tooth and nail.
I used to have him down for lunch all the time. He’s a real cheap date – just give him an apple, that’s all he wants for lunch. We’d try to keep it from ever getting personal and we’d sit around and try to figure out how can we compromise. That first session when I was governor, when he was going to prove some things to me, we went an extra 30 days and I pretty much got what I wanted. The next year he beat me up a little more but we always knew where the other guy was and we always tried to find out what was the common ground. We also knew if we told the other guy something, he could take it to the bank. I think what happened with Blagojevich and Madigan was he thought Blagojevich lied to him and there’s nothing that upsets Mike Madigan more. It became much more personal and I think everything got ruined by that a little bit.
But Madigan, the last two years I was governor, when he came back after losing the speakership, he told the press, “I tried to fight the governor, I’m not going to do that anymore. I’m going to try to work with the governor and if we can agree I’m going to be his best supporter.” And in the last couple years on most things, especially fiscal things, he was my biggest supporter in the legislature. And I think he was very supportive to George Ryan. But the trouble was, with George, George wanted him to go along with spending. And I asked the speaker one time, I said, you were a fiscal conservative with me, now you’re a big spender. He said, “You know my members. They like to spend money. I’m going to follow the governor. I’m not going to stick my neck out.” So I think the fact that we had governors who kind of took their eyes off the bottom line – for a long time Madigan went along with that as the speaker. I think it was only when he had a complete break with Blagojevich that he began to tighten up on the budget stuff and then it was really too late. Too little, too late.
But again, it goes back to the governor’s got to provide that leadership. The governor is the 800-pound gorilla in Illinois government and if he’s not, then the way this system is designed it doesn’t work very well. And that’s what I think we’ve seen the last 10 years it just hasn’t worked very well.