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Edgar talks about Madigan

Tuesday, Nov 27, 2012

* 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.


- Posted by Rich Miller        

  1. - PublicServant - Tuesday, Nov 27, 12 @ 9:00 am:

    Uhmmm, “the last 10 years…[the system] hasn’t worked very well”. The “system” has been shorting the pensions for the last 50 years. 10 years is letting them off way to easy.

  2. - shore - Tuesday, Nov 27, 12 @ 9:01 am:

    quinn wasn’t up in 2012, madigan’s house members were. what does edgar do all day when he’s not undercutting republicans named dillard?

  3. - RetiredStateEmployee - Tuesday, Nov 27, 12 @ 9:21 am:

    I think he is talking about the relationship between the governor and the legislature. In that respect, you must admit that the last two governors just don’t seem to get it. You can’t properly govern by press release. The pension system problem is a problem of elected officials (governors and legislatures) spending more than revenues.

  4. - Oswego Willy - Tuesday, Nov 27, 12 @ 9:28 am:

    No Snark.

    How great was that? That was like sitting at a table and asking “the” question, and getting the REAL answer we all crave. Yet… we are told this over and over and still don’t believe it. How many times do we have to hear this before it makes sense? I guess at least one more becasue Jim Edgar just said it …again.

    How can we all, Dems and Repubs, not pine for the time of good “checks and balances” government, and finding the common ground to govern the state?

    So much stinging truth in what former Governor Edgar said. While I said we should pine for those days, there is only politics stopping the governing.

    Easier said than done in this atmosphere, but at what cost do we not try to find that common ground?

    What cost? Easy, the cost is this debt, the cost is this irrational process of attempting to fix everything in one big swoop, when in reality, it will take budget”s” not one budget, and at the cost of a great deal of political capital that both Speaker Madigan and former Governor Edgar…knew.

    They both knew there was a “cost” for what they wanted, and the “cost” here in this situation is that Governor Quinn must lead and stop promoting “Comic Books”. Promoting dumb, silly, comic images are for dopes like me, not 1/3 of our state’s government. The role of a governor is to lead. Jim Edgar and Speaker Michael J. Madigan knew that. They appreciated that “dance”, and government worked.

    How great is that from Jim Edgar?

    Trust. Jim Edgar and Michael Madigan trusted each other. Throw in the real “cost” of Edgar getting what he wanted from Madigan, and that IS governing.

    “You can have ‘that’, but know what I need to do”.

    “I understand, but I want what I want and this is why, ok?”



    But we have “Fire Madigan”. Why don’t we have, “Govern, Pat Quinn, Govern!” That is the political “apple” slice in all this as Republicans. That is why Madigan used “Fire Madigan” against the HGOP, in their own races.

    The Republicans in both chambers see Madigan as their target, but not Quinn. Why? Looking for the “soul” of my party, and thinking Michael Madigan stole our soul, has cost us the vision of governing, by looking for the politcial angle.

    Good politics is good government, and visa versa, as the saying goes. Edar is telling us that, again.

    Now its up to the Irrelevent House Leader, “Three Putt” Tom Cross and the Irrelevent Leader in the Senate, Christine (Jo Galloway) Radogno to cobble a nitch with the vast 19 votes in the seante, and the 47 house votes to not be the party of “NO”, but to engage and move the message forward. If you don’t, there will be really important people who are going to call you, to your faces, Irrelevent.

    The pressure is on Pat Quinn … or is that too “Squeezy”?

  5. - reformer - Tuesday, Nov 27, 12 @ 9:29 am:

    It’s significant that Edgar repudiates the failed fire Madigan strategy. It actually failed in 2010 as well. By implication, Edgar is repudiating the GOP braintrust that came up with that strategy.

  6. - dupage dan - Tuesday, Nov 27, 12 @ 9:37 am:

    GOP braintrust. Is that like jumbo shrimp?

  7. - Adam Smith - Tuesday, Nov 27, 12 @ 9:43 am:

    Gov. Edgar infuriates many Republicans because he just won’t subscribe to their vitriolic style of campaigning. Even when every issue in the state favored them (other than Obama on the ticket which is a big factor) the GOP message did not resonate with voters. Edgar may not have the answers but it is bizzare that so many Republicans dismiss him out of hand when he is arguably among the most successful Illinois GOP pols in a half-century.

    Edgar absolutely hated personal campaign attacks. He loved hitting hard and pounded on Netsch even when he was way ahead, but it wasn’t personal. It wasn’t a crusade, it was just a campaign.

    Everyone, on both sides, would be well served to listen to Edgar.

  8. - Pot calling kettle - Tuesday, Nov 27, 12 @ 10:00 am:

    Wow. Excellent stuff. And, of course, it makes sense. The key to it all is to set aside the posturing and focus on governing. One big problem with Quinn seems to be that his experience is leading the mob to the gates of the citadel. Now he’s the guy in the citadel and he does seem to know how to play the role of Governor.

    I must add that when I read “He’s a real cheap date – just give him an apple, that’s all he wants for lunch.” I got my laugh for the day! I will be smiling about that one for the rest of the week. Thanks Gov. Edgar.

  9. - OneMan - Tuesday, Nov 27, 12 @ 10:04 am:

    What, angry isn’t going to work….

    But seriously, we need to offer a little more than.
    –We are not those guys
    –Government is bad

    Listen to Jim, don’t forget he actually won elections and stuff

  10. - Fair Share - Tuesday, Nov 27, 12 @ 10:07 am:

    -Blago lied to Madigan but Edgar beat up on Madigan- Sheesh, how convenient and remarkably revisionist. All Edgar ever accomplished was negotiating the division of the “booty” to take care of the GOP caucuses. And frankly, Philip had more to do with that than Edgar. And to pay for it Edgar agreed to a “back end” loaded pension payment scheme (the 90% funded by 2045) time bomb that began its steep payment curve in the middle of Blago’s tenure. That was the true source of the battles - not enough resources to keep everyone happy. Edgar is the most overrated “statesman” ever.

  11. - Empty Chair - Tuesday, Nov 27, 12 @ 10:27 am:

    Does anyone know what Madigan’s committee’s had COH in 1991? I doubt it was as much as he has today.
    Dem Maj: $1mm
    Friends of MJM: $1mm
    DPI: $1.4mm

    I can’t imagine he was a $3.5MM powerhouse back then. Get real Edgar.

  12. - foster brooks - Tuesday, Nov 27, 12 @ 10:36 am:

    Let’s not forget Edgar isn’t following the race to the bottom folks in demanding that we screw our fellow citizens out of their pensions.

  13. - wordslinger - Tuesday, Nov 27, 12 @ 10:38 am:

    It’s always been lunacy to think that the top guy in one chamber of the GA controlled everything.

    But it supports the Victim Complex that so many find appealing. It’s That Guy’s fault. No one else has any responsibility.

  14. - Palos Park Bob - Tuesday, Nov 27, 12 @ 10:53 am:

    My guess is that Madigan had a small lunch because I believe that what Edgar used to eat was disgusting.

    IIRC, one of his favorties was putting ketchup on cottage cheese.

    That’s almost, but not quite, as bad as putting ketchup on a hot dog!

  15. - jake - Tuesday, Nov 27, 12 @ 11:09 am:

    I think that Edgar nailed it, with respect to both Madigan’s strengths and his limitations. The Speaker is a master of procedure, but with respect to policy, he follows his caucus way more often than he pushes his own agenda. I think that is more good than bad. The reason Madigan gets his way in such an overwhelming number of cases is not because he persuades others to his way of thinking on issues, but because he tunes his priorities to what his caucus wants–and perhaps more importantly, what will get his caucus members re-elected.

  16. - Third Reading - Tuesday, Nov 27, 12 @ 11:16 am:

    Heh. Play this one in reverse.

    What if Madigan were to reflect candidly on governors he has known?

    Earlier this year, Abdon Pallasch captured MJM doing exactly that. Excerpts:

    Madigan was most effusive in his praise for convicted former Gov. George Ryan, calling him “very flexible, very interested in just identifying problems and fashioning solutions.”

    Madigan was almost nostalgic about former Gov. Jim Thompson, calling him “a very intelligent person, a quick learner, very flexible. He understood … that you need to fashion compromise if you need to move forward.”

    He sounded a bit less fond of Gov. Jim Edgar, whom he called “a little more strident than Gov. Thompson … more willing to engage in protracted negotiations in order to get what he wanted, especially out of the budget.”

    Madigan skipped former Gov. Richard Ogilvie — with whom he had little overlap — and former Gov. Dan Walker. He heaped the largest share of disdain on Blagojevich.

    “That was just confrontation from beginning to end, publicly and privately,” Madigan said. “The idea that there would be sound policy decisions — that was never in the cards. He had a different agenda, all related to what he was going to do later in life.”

    Madigan finished with Quinn: “He is very well-intentioned. You may remember he was a gadfly. He was the guy who would schedule Sunday afternoon press conferences. And in those days the media would actually go to his press conferences. Now he’s in a position where he’s governing. We’ve been able to work through our problems and our differences — and we have plenty of differences. So it’s better than it was, I’ll tell you that.”

    And you gotta love this nugget: Pate (Philip) used to refer to his caucus members as ‘gorillas.’ It’s true: ‘My gorillas don’t like that.’

    Read all about it:

    (Me, well — I really miss Pallasch’s reporting.)

    I’m outta here.

  17. - xroads - Tuesday, Nov 27, 12 @ 12:21 pm:

    It’s never too late for change.

  18. - walkinfool - Tuesday, Nov 27, 12 @ 12:34 pm:

    jake nails it

  19. - Pot calling kettle - Tuesday, Nov 27, 12 @ 1:22 pm:

    TR: It looks like they are in agreement. Madigan’s control of the House is limited, and it takes a firm Gov. to hold down spending.

  20. - 1776 - Tuesday, Nov 27, 12 @ 1:28 pm:

    The biggest note is that they trusted each other - and could take their word to the bank. Rod had no credibility and they don’t trust Quinn.

  21. - John Parnell - Tuesday, Nov 27, 12 @ 2:44 pm:

    Edgar signed the pension reform bill of Senator Netsch in the early nineties. The ramp up of required yearly contributions was end loaded to make it easy on the legislators at that time. Edgar kicked the can down the road by signing it, instead of making the necessary higher payments to the pension fund. Now he is the expert on budgeting? Give me a break.

  22. - reformer - Tuesday, Nov 27, 12 @ 4:55 pm:

    Edgar did propose an income tax hike in 1997, dubbed Netsch II, which passed the House on a bipartisan vote. Pate killed it. At least Edgar recognized the State needed more revenue to adequately fund basic services. Of course he had blasted Netch in ‘94 for advocating an income tax hike.

  23. - Hard To Believe - Tuesday, Nov 27, 12 @ 5:22 pm:

    Now that we have heard from Jim Edgar on his personal thoughts about Mike Madigan, I would find it interesting to hear Madigan’s thoughts on Edgar when he served as governor. I am not so sure that we could count on Madigan to be as candid on his thoughts about Jim Edgar (but you never know unless you ask)?

  24. - Professor of Arithmetic and Accounting - Tuesday, Nov 27, 12 @ 6:35 pm:

    The continuing Edgar myth (politely untruth) - he continues to claim he left a billion dollar surplus but if we check the Comptroller’s website it lists the fund balances (GAAP) for the general funds per the annual audits (CAFRS) for many years and we find not a surplus but a $300 million deficit his last year (FY1999) and a fund balance deficit every year he was Governor.
    True he inherited a billion dollar plus deficit from Thompson (see same website)in FY91 but it didn’t change much his first term. Then his second term he figured it out, just supprress the pension contribution (the 50 year plan)and voila his budgets had a few small surpluses but still ended his second term with a $300 million deficit - not a surplus and not a billion dollars.
    The problem is the annual audits (using accounting rules) don’t usually come out till about a year later, they are several hundred pages that almost nobody understands and are old news
    As many have already indicated the 1995 50 year plan was a huge kick down the road. The unfunded liability was about $29 billion in 95, the 50 year plan does not make the first payment on the $20 billion dollar debt till 2034 - 40 years later.
    But the most amazing thing about edgar was after adopting the year fantasy he added new benefits every year of his second term but not a dollar to pay for it

  25. - Professor of Arithmetic, etc - Tuesday, Nov 27, 12 @ 6:42 pm:

    Please excuse earlier typo above in the last paragraph should be - “after adopting the 50 year fantasy ….”
    Also typoed $29 billion rather than $20 billion in the prior paragraph

Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.

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