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Durbin will “stay out” of Democratic governor’s primary

Wednesday, Jan 23, 2013

* Lynn Sweet

Sen. Dick Durbin told me Tuesday that Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan is “seriously thinking” about running for governor.

I talked to Madigan about a gubernatorial bid on Saturday night — she was here for President Barack Obama’s Inauguration festivities — and my takeaway from the conversation is she wants to run whether or not Bill Daley also gets in a Democratic primary to challenge Gov. Pat Quinn.

The main consequence of Madigan, 46, inching toward a bid is this: We now know the politically vulnerable Quinn is heading toward a colossal primary fight because he is going to be facing strong opponents, either Madigan, Daley or both in the March 18, 2014, balloting.

“She had made special outreach to labor and they know it, they’ve noticed in terms of her showing up at events and the like,” Durbin told me. “I don’t think she has made a final decision. I know she is in the process of making a decision.”

When Madigan mulled a Senate run in 2009, she mustered little enthusiasm when we talked about the prospect of what would have been a Democratic primary contest and taking a job where she would have to commute between Chicago and Washington.

That was not the case when we chatted about a 2014 Democratic primary for governor at the Illinois Inaugural Gala. This time, she’s hungry.

As we talked, with her husband, Pat Byrnes by her side, Madigan, was the one who reminded me that her kids were older now and more independent: Rebecca is 8 and Lucy turns 5 next month.

Durbin told me he assumes Quinn is running for re-election. As for getting involved in a primary, Durbin, who is up for re-election in 2014, said, “My plan is to stay out.”

* And Quinn isn’t talking

Gov. Pat Quinn sidestepped whether he is concerned about possibly the strongest indicator yet that four-term Attorney General Lisa Madigan is considering running against him for governor in 2014.

“I’m not really doing politics right now,” Quinn said Tuesday following a school safety summit in Springfield. “I think it’s better to do policy…there will be plenty of time to focus on politics later on.”

- Posted by Rich Miller        


37 Comments
  1. - Reformed Public Servant - Wednesday, Jan 23, 13 @ 10:07 am:

    No one can remain neutral in this issue - the defining issue of the strength and discipline of the IL Democractic Party. By choosing not to take sides, Senator Durbin and other will have still made a choice. While Senators are now directly elected, they need the support of their home state party - translation = MJM. Projection = Durbin backs Lisa once she announces.


  2. - Fair Share - Wednesday, Jan 23, 13 @ 10:08 am:

    I will say it from now. Quinn will not run for reelection. His ego cannot handle a primary defeat. He will claim some form of success having served during turbulent times and helping to restore faith in government and graciously step aside for the next generation of leaders. He won’t ride off into the sunset, however, he will ask o be appointed to the ICC or U of I board to continue his mission of “whatever”.


  3. - Knome Sane - Wednesday, Jan 23, 13 @ 10:09 am:

    For the life of me, I cannot fathom why AG Madigan would want to run for Governor in 2014. At 46, she is young enough to bide her time in the AG’s office and wait for the state’s problems to ease, if they ever do. The moment she gets sworn in as Governor, the clock starts ticking on when her stint ends. It is rare for a governor in Illinois to do more than 2-3 terms (8-12) years. I predict she won’t do it this time.


  4. - Captain Illini - Wednesday, Jan 23, 13 @ 10:20 am:

    I for one, though conservative in nature would welcome her run. She’s positioned herself as a competent, seasoned professional regardless of her lineage, and can run a campaign on substantive issues. I believe she’ll pivot toward a socially progressive, fiscally conservative message offering to represent all of Illinois as she has in the AG’s office. Regardless, it will be fun.


  5. - Niles Township - Wednesday, Jan 23, 13 @ 10:22 am:

    When it comes to both Madigan and Daley, I’ll believe it when it is official. Until then, mere speculation. They’ve faked us before.


  6. - Dirty Red - Wednesday, Jan 23, 13 @ 10:23 am:

    Pat Quinn, ladies and gentlemen! Give it up for the guy! He got jokes!


  7. - Oswego Willy - Wednesday, Jan 23, 13 @ 10:27 am:

    Durbin is a “conservative” guy when it comes to speculation about people and races…

    then you read this from Durbin …

    Just saying.


  8. - Demoralized - Wednesday, Jan 23, 13 @ 10:27 am:

    ==“I think it’s better to do policy…”==

    I’m still waiting for something coherent from the Governor as far as policy is concerned. Or maybe the Governor’s policy is purposely confused. I’m honestly not sure.

    As for waiting for the “good times to roll” in Illinois before running for Governor you are going to be waiting for a long time. Besides, I don’t want a leader who would shy away from the challenges Illinois is facing. There are never any guarantees of “smooth sailing” when you are the chief executive. Ask George W. Bush. His presidency was changed in the blink of an eye on September 11, 2001.


  9. - OneMan - Wednesday, Jan 23, 13 @ 10:33 am:

    As the great Geddy Lee puts it so well
    If you choose not to decide, you still have made a choice

    If I was Durbin, I would stay out of it too, why upset anyone if you don’t have to.


  10. - downstate commissioner - Wednesday, Jan 23, 13 @ 10:36 am:

    My feeling is that the only way that Quinn will be governor again is if he sneaks in on a three (or more)-way primary race, although he would have a better chance downstate against Daly. The Daly name really isn’t popular downstate.
    Really feel that if Lisa wants the job, all she has to do is say so….


  11. - MrJM - Wednesday, Jan 23, 13 @ 10:39 am:

    I’m with Knome Sane — I don’t see why Lisa would want to be governor before somebody else A) addresses Illinois’ many fiscal problems, and B) takes the heat for addressing Illinois’ many fiscal problems.

    Unless her father is gravely ill, time is on her side.

    – MrJM


  12. - Oh Yeah - Wednesday, Jan 23, 13 @ 10:41 am:

    I still say she does not run. Although she could potentially beat PQ in the primary, she would have big problems in the general if her dad remained where and what he is politically (unless a right wing goofball was the survivor of the GOP primary). Besides, why would she want the headaches of becoming Gov right now especially with the prospect of being at loggerheads with her father when she tries to run government for years. And, finally, you cannot underestimate the power and influence of a Governor in his own primary especially after he’s been in office for a few years like PQ has. Pundits have underestimated PQ before and they do so again at their peril.


  13. - Small Town Liberal - Wednesday, Jan 23, 13 @ 10:46 am:

    Fair Share - You’re way off, Quinn has already said he’s running. He’s not worried about his ego, and he’s not afraid of a fight.


  14. - Rich Miller - Wednesday, Jan 23, 13 @ 10:47 am:

    ===and wait for the state’s problems to ease, if they ever do.===

    Several of you are saying this, but I haven’t seen this widely claimed about any of the other potential candidates. That makes me curious as to why.


  15. - Raising Kane - Wednesday, Jan 23, 13 @ 10:53 am:

    Beating Quinn in a primary is more difficult than people think but Lisa is the one candidate who could likely do it without much trouble. Quinn was able to beat Hynes because of the African American comunity….Lisa cuts deep into that, in a way that Bill Daley could not.

    Now the general election could be a problem for her if a guy like Rauner wins. He has the money to beat the heck out of her. But short of him making it tough for her, I don’t see any candidate on the GOP side that can beat her. At least it is hard to imagine right now.


  16. - Pinker - Wednesday, Jan 23, 13 @ 10:58 am:

    If she isn’t governor in 2014, how can she run for President in 2016?

    The time is now.


  17. - wordslinger - Wednesday, Jan 23, 13 @ 10:59 am:

    I don’t see Quinn ducking a primary. He’s lost plenty in the past, and now that he’s got the big chair, I don’t think he’ll go out without a fight.

    Maybe he could be persuaded to walk with a federal judgeship or a cabinet post, but I doubt it. Besides, why would the White House care about an off-year Illinois primary? They have bigger fish to fry.

    If Lisa gets in the race, which way does Big Money Burke break? He backed Quinn over Hynes last time. Who has the edge on the South and West sides? Quinn had a lot of support there over Hynes. Does Emanuel tap his national fundraising base for anyone?

    If there are two barn-burner primaries, what ballot will Independents pull? What ballot will suburban women pull?

    I can envision a scenario where the GOP primary skews even farther to the right than usual, as more Independents and suburban women choose to pull a Dem ballot.

    If it goes down, Rich, you better upgrade your tech, because your traffic will be off the charts.


  18. - justbabs - Wednesday, Jan 23, 13 @ 11:02 am:

    Memories are difficult after a certain age. Wasn’t there a good deal of concern about LM running for AG, back in the day? Wasn’t her father being Speaker considered a potential reason for voter backlash way back then?


  19. - Oswego Willy - Wednesday, Jan 23, 13 @ 11:14 am:

    ===I can envision a scenario where the GOP primary skews even farther to the right than usual, as more Independents and suburban women choose to pull a Dem ballot.===

    Excellent analysis. Completely agree.

    The GOP primary will be about the “Heart and Soul” and “Most Republican” turning off Indies that go back and forth in Primary season.

    The Dem primary, with Lisa (this is a speculation, I know, no one has declared!), and Quinn, who is going to run until they tell him “it’s over” will Gin up more moderate voters and more intense voter interest because there is more for the average voter to sink their teeth into, then say, “Explain, each of you, what the GOP platform means to you and to our Primary Voters watching this debate…”

    As Rich adds more on the tech side, expect more “drive by” posters and “talking points” from all sides this time around.

    As far as the TWO primaries for ONE office goes, just the political, how much more intense can a Primary season get??


  20. - walkinfool - Wednesday, Jan 23, 13 @ 11:18 am:

    I cannot see anyone wanting to be governor, if they can reasonably put it off, until we are past the point of the income tax increase being made permanent.


  21. - Cardinal fan - Wednesday, Jan 23, 13 @ 11:26 am:

    “Memories are difficult after a certain age. Wasn’t there a good deal of concern about LM running for AG, back in the day? Wasn’t her father being Speaker considered a potential reason for voter backlash way back then?”

    If my memory serves me, the big issue when LM ran for AG was experience or lack of experience. Both John Schmidt (Dem primary) and Birkett (General election) hammered her on no courtroom experience and law experience in general. Her father was also an issue but with him it is a situation where he is your biggest asset and also your biggest liability. So far him being an asset has outweighed any liability he causes LM.


  22. - cassandra - Wednesday, Jan 23, 13 @ 11:34 am:

    The Republicans don’t seem to have pulled themselves together yet and may be facing a nasty primary fight of their own in 2014.

    So I guess Democratic primary voters will pick our next governor. Time for some Nate Silver-type polling in this group or too early? Their priorities are likely to be the state’s priorities going forward. Quinn, a sitting governor in command of many state resources, has plenty of concrete ways to curry favor with this group over the next year–without spending a lot of campaign money.


  23. - sal-says - Wednesday, Jan 23, 13 @ 11:39 am:

    “I think it’s better to do policy…”

    Because he’s so good at it?


  24. - OneMan - Wednesday, Jan 23, 13 @ 11:40 am:

    == So I guess Democratic primary voters will pick our next governor. ==

    Not so sure about that, lots of folks who would have helped Quinn in the past (public employee unions) may not help him in the general. A labor friendly (or at least not hostile) Republican could get some support.


  25. - Fred's Mustache - Wednesday, Jan 23, 13 @ 11:47 am:

    === If Lisa gets in the race, which way does Big Money Burke break? He backed Quinn over Hynes last time. Who has the edge on the South and West sides? Quinn had a lot of support there over Hynes. Does Emanuel tap his national fundraising base for anyone? ===

    I think that if Burke and Rahm break for anyone at all, it would be Lisa. Lisa Madigan is not Dan Hynes. For all practical purposes, by going against Dan Hynes, you are going against Dan Hynes. By going against Lisa Madigan, you are going against Lisa Madigan AND MJM. I expect the South and West sides to be more fractured.

    But I think that the 2012 election will show that it might be more important to determine who the people of Lincoln Park and the North Shore will go for. Additionally, who will they go for in mighty Thornton Township and the rest of the South Suburbs? At this time, I think Lisa is the more likely choice for both.


  26. - Blue Dog - Wednesday, Jan 23, 13 @ 12:31 pm:

    When Bill Daley was involved with SBC / AT&T, didn’t he eliminate or move thousands of jobs out of Illinois?

    I’m thinking that may not play well with current unemployment rates.

    If Madigan is going to try & capitalize on Quinn’s weakness downstate, she better have a heck of an olive branch to offer those Democrats after her recent actions on firearms owners.

    Is there any chance of a decent moderate Democrat showing up to the party?


  27. - iThink - Wednesday, Jan 23, 13 @ 12:37 pm:

    ===Is there any chance of a decent moderate Democrat showing up to the party? ===

    Or centrist Republican for that matter, people are clamoring for a moderate to come in and gets things done.


  28. - Anonymous 45 - Wednesday, Jan 23, 13 @ 12:51 pm:

    Someone on the D side will run against Quinn, I just don’t think it will be Daley or Madigan. Daley will not appeal to central and southern IL
    Dems, he is a DC insider, and he has threatened this before. Rahm sure as hell doesn’t want to contend with a Gov. Daley.

    Madigan is crazy to want the ball of confusion and systemic fiscal abyss that is IL at this point in her career. MJM aint going away any time soon. Why would he abdicate to anyone at the height of his career, even his daughter is beyond me. I’d wager a candidate that was not been mentioned takes a stab at it vs. Quinn.


  29. - Frank - Wednesday, Jan 23, 13 @ 1:07 pm:

    Rich, I think the reason many say Lisa should bide her time is because she holds a great job right now. The AG’s office is a good-publicity machine. You can sit in that job for a couple of decades and never get in trouble. For Bill Daley, it’s now or never.

    And because she has time on her side, why run unless dad is ready to step aside? Lisa is tremendously popular, MJM is not. If she challenges Quinn, the guv won’t run against Lisa, he will run against one of the few figures in Illinois politics less popular than he is — the Speaker. That gives Quinn a shot at winning and Lisa knows it. Does she really want to run a campaign spending most of her time defending her family — including her brother’s insurance business, her mom’s work at the Art Council, and her brother-in-law’s tenure at the RTA? Which is not to say any of them have done anything wrong, but does she want to open them to unfair scrutiny? I think not. Why give up a great gig for that headache?

    So the real question isn’t will Lisa run, it’s will MJM retire?


  30. - MrJM - Wednesday, Jan 23, 13 @ 2:31 pm:

    Rich, I think the reason many say Lisa should bide her time is because she holds a great job right now. The AG’s office is a good-publicity machine. You can sit in that job for a couple of decades and never get in trouble.

    Frank took the words right out of my fingers.

    – MrJM


  31. - Rich Miller - Wednesday, Jan 23, 13 @ 2:33 pm:

    ===Rich, I think the reason many say Lisa should bide her time is because she holds a great job right now. ===

    So is being a congressman (Schock) or a hedge fund billionaire (Rauner). Still not convinced that this question should only apply to her.


  32. - wordslinger - Wednesday, Jan 23, 13 @ 3:11 pm:

    –So is being a congressman (Schock) or a hedge fund billionaire (Rauner). Still not convinced that this question should only apply to her.–

    Lot of whistling past the graveyard here, lol.

    If she runs, she is formidable. Anyone checked her vote totals? In 2010, she won by 1.2 million votes.

    That’s a lot.

    But for the 98 County Romantics, take heart. She only won 79 counties.


  33. - Small Town Liberal - Wednesday, Jan 23, 13 @ 4:31 pm:

    - Lot of whistling past the graveyard here, lol. -

    Let’s just say I’ve cleared my schedule for the next 418 days.


  34. - western illinois - Wednesday, Jan 23, 13 @ 6:33 pm:

    Daley has specifically said he thinks his negoitating style can help solve the states problems. So far he is the only one to mention the state has problems ex of course Quinn who claims to be working night day or day and night on them


  35. - western illinois - Wednesday, Jan 23, 13 @ 6:38 pm:

    I just hate to predict multiple candiate primaries with a lot of well known names and or well funded candiates. All it really says is a lot of the known /well funded see Quinn as very weak and vulnerable. Interesting it is all popping out after the failed lame duck.
    It will make it difficult for Quinn to get anything done when many legislators will see him as a lame duck


  36. - Will - Wednesday, Jan 23, 13 @ 7:09 pm:

    It’s a little late for Durbin to stay out now that he’s already making favorable public comments about a primary challenge to the sitting Democratic Governor. He just announced his preference, or he would have made no comment.

    No primary challenger needs needs to worry about beating Quinn downstate. After Quinn’s attack on public employee pensions and multiple state facility closures in small towns that depend on them, a Daley family house plant could beat Quinn downstate.


  37. - Downstate‏ - Wednesday, Jan 23, 13 @ 8:33 pm:

    If either Daley of Madigan run. The Democratic downstate voters, will decide who the next Governor is, Chicago will be split and the decision will be made by voters outside of Cook county.So public employee unions, state employees, retirees and gun owners will have a big impact!


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