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Leader Cross eyeing attorney general bid

Monday, May 20, 2013

* This is kinda old news for subscribers. Subscribe for more up to date info, but for now here is my weekly syndicated newspaper column

One of the worst kept secrets over the past few weeks is that House Republican Leader Tom Cross has been considering a run for Illinois attorney general.

Cross has reportedly been asked by Comptroller Judy Baar Topinka and Congressman Aaron Schock to think about a bid in case Attorney General Lisa Madigan decides to run for governor or simply not run for anything.

A former county prosecutor, Leader Cross has long considered a bid for the office. But as recently as a few weeks ago, Cross’ people were denying that he would do it. Now, however, they are saying it’s a possibility. The calls from top Republicans and some major GOP fundraisers have apparently helped focus his mind. “Any time you have so many people requesting that you consider something you owe it to them to do some due diligence,” explained one Cross backer last week.

Top Republicans believe they have a decent shot at winning the race after picking up two other down-ballot statewide offices in 2010. Rep. Jim Durkin (R-Western Springs) is so far the only other Republican openly considering the office. But there is some doubt that Durkin will pull the trigger.

Durkin ran against US Sen. Richard Durbin in 2002, beating both Jim Oberweis and John Cox in the GOP primary, but losing the general election with just 38 percent of the vote. He was heavily involved in both of John McCain’s presidential bids, so he has significant statewide experience. But serious doubts about whether he’ll run for attorney general have caused some top folks to start coalescing behind Cross.

Cross’ people stress that their boss hasn’t yet made a final decision, but they do acknowledge that it would be rather awkward if both Cross and Durkin run against each other in a primary. Even so, they say the two are friends and they figure they’ll work things out one way or the other come summertime.

It’s possible that Durkin could even be a potential Cross replacement as House GOP Leader if Cross runs statewide and he doesn’t. For now, though, nothing has been decided, partly because everybody is waiting to see what AG Madigan does, and partly because there is still some time to sort everything out within the party.

Durkin was obviously caught by surprise by Cross’ decision to publicly reveal his intentions. But he pushed back against those who say he’s not seriously putting a campaign together by saying he’s met with a pollster and a fundraiser as well as with the Republican Attorney General Association.

However, he said he has told people “consistently” that there’s no vacancy at the moment, so he’s going to wait and see what incumbent Lisa Madigan does before making a decision.

As far as Leader Cross goes, Durkin said “We’re good friends and no matter what happens we will continue to be good friends.”

Cross has not had much luck, to say the least, in winning new seats under two successive Democratic maps in a Democratic-trending state, although he fared better than the Senate Republicans did last year. His caucus is deeply divided along geographic and ideological lines and holding them together is no easy task. After years of iron-fisted control of the caucus by Lee Daniels, Cross promised to be a more small “d” democratic leader. But that has resulted in some embarrassing results, including recently when a majority of his caucus voted against a pension reform bill that he’d been advocating for years.

According to the “Trial Balloons” website, no other Republicans besides Durkin have yet floated their names for attorney general. The Democratic list is long, however. Sen. Kwame Raoul, Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart, former Chicago Inspector General David Hoffman, Lt. Gov. Sheila Simon, Chicago Board of Education member and prominent Latino attorney Jesse Ruiz, and state Reps. Jack Franks and John Bradley are all listed as possible candidates, as is Cook County State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez.

A crowded Democratic primary could very well cause a surprising election result, so the Republicans definitely want to be ready just in case they get a relatively weak opponent.

Ms. Madigan has been just too popular with voters to hurt a potential farm team member in the long run by putting up any sort of decent fight against her. If she moves on, the Republicans figure they at least have a shot at winning the slot.


- Posted by Rich Miller        

  1. - wordslinger - Monday, May 20, 13 @ 8:55 am:

    I can see why Cross would go for it. He has a thankless, impossible job, and not just because of Madigan, His caucus is full of self-important, ideological prima donnas interested in nothing but self-promotion.

  2. - PublicServant - Monday, May 20, 13 @ 9:00 am:

    Yea Word, and Cross is one of them.

  3. - Judgment Day - Monday, May 20, 13 @ 9:19 am:


    For the Democrats, 5 of 8 are Cook County. The other three are McHenry County (Jack Franks); Marion, IL (John Bradley), and Shelia Simon from Carbondale area.

    IF it’s an eight person primary (5 + 3), both regional voting bases (Cook/outside Cook) will likely be fragmented, and maybe very fragmented. Kind of reminds me of a recent Republican primary race for Governor.

    Regardless of who wins, how do you put it all back together for the general?

    If no heavyweight pops up on the Democratic side, Cross could get the office.

  4. - walkinfool - Monday, May 20, 13 @ 9:20 am:

    Cross and Durkin are both good, open-minded, public servants, and are not among the ideological stiff-necks the state GOP.

    Both would be good candidates for AG.

  5. - shore - Monday, May 20, 13 @ 9:28 am:

    Cross has been a lousy party leader down there. I like Durkin a lot more from what I’ve seen of him.

  6. - low level - Monday, May 20, 13 @ 9:29 am:

    “Any time you have so many people requesting that you consider something you owe it to them…” explained one Cross backer last week.

    Is it fair to also read into this statement that Leader Cross and his backers realize being the minority leader of a clueless, directionless, and politically tone deaf caucus is not much fun - or good for any further prospects?

    In other words, its a dead end and as he is getting older its now or never.

  7. - CircularFiringSquad - Monday, May 20, 13 @ 9:33 am:

    It is very exciting to see Billboards stretch his stubby little wings….we will take $100 on him never filing petitions….just like the last time
    And think of the clash of Titans between Boss Toss and SkipperEddie. Who will win the support of WhackyJack or the Mayor of Elmwood Park? Who do the ReBooters back. Will the ReBooters even exist?
    The suspense will be riveting
    Fire, Aim, Ready!

  8. - OneMan - Monday, May 20, 13 @ 10:04 am:

    Has anyone checked on Oswego Willy after he read this?

    Is he buying tickets for golf outings?
    Is he in the now unflooded back yard on his pool float drinking a beer and yelling at the fates?

    People want to know…

  9. - Anonymous - Monday, May 20, 13 @ 10:48 am:

    Good for you, Tom. Go for it!

  10. - Amalia - Monday, May 20, 13 @ 12:32 pm:

    wonder if Madigan would prefer that Cross stay in the Legislature, or go and get another leader. we all know the joy of having, oh, say Rosemary Mulligan leave, so I wonder about Cross.

  11. - Oswego Willy - Monday, May 20, 13 @ 12:38 pm:

    I had a family obligation this morning and I was unavailable to Post.

    This might be Tom Cross’ “Out”. He can leave the House, and “Roll the dice and take his chances”.

    If he wins the Primary, his focus will be on the General Election, and Cross will have to relinquish all HGOP Campaign aparatus to someone else, and if Cross “happens” to take HIS Senior Politcal Staff with him to run statewide and the HGOP Caucus needs to re-tool, that is a WIN for the HGOP Caucus!

    If Cross runs and loses in the Primary, and nothing is orchestrated where there is a “placeholder” who wins his House Seat Primary, and Cross slots himself “back as the Nominee for his old House seat, then Cross can focus on running the HGOP and the Political aparatus, which might include gofing on Election Day even more since “Two-Putt” won’t be on the ballot, a “Lame-Duck Irrelevent”?

    Tom Cross should run to AG, its the right time and the right office, and Cross is of a good age that if he loses it all, he can lobby for 20 years and golf till the cows come home and be better for it.

    If Tom Cross wins, he wins, and that is good for the ILGOP and Cross can’t do too much damage to himself being Attorney General, and …Cross can actually have a great deal of time to work on his “short game and putting” around his office, keeping a putter close and looking out the window.

    Tom Cross should run for AG, and I hope he takes all his cracker-jack Senior Politicos and make a run for it.

    Just hide his golf clubs in March if he’s Primaried.

  12. - and1 - Monday, May 20, 13 @ 8:04 pm:

    Cross seems like a good guy. Just no Anita. Not for dogcatcher. Not for anything. Forget about being a poor candidate, she’s a bad person.

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