Should Lisa Madigan announce now? *** UPDATED x1 ***
Thursday, May 29, 2008
* Eric Zorn urges Attorney General Lisa Madigan to announce right away that she’s running for governor…
* Zorn notes that Blagojevich has a big fundraiser planned for next month, so an announcement now would dry up the governor’s money…
* He also lists several possible Democratic contenders who are currently mulling gubernatorial bids, including Paul Vallas, Alexi Giannoulias and Dan Hynes. A “multi-candidate primary” would be Blagojevich’s best bet for reelection, Zorn says, but if Lisa jumped in now…
* I see several flaws in this argument…
1) Blagojevich’s fundraising abilities have already been hobbled by the ongoing federal probes. The ethics bill, if it becomes law, would further damage his fundraising capabilities by not allowing him to raise money from state contractors. Also, half the money he raised last year went to legal fees. If Rezko is convicted in a way that points directly at Blagojevich, those legal fees will exponentially rise. Heck, they’ll increase anyway because there are plenty of other investigations afoot.
2) Dan Hynes is a Mike Madigan ally, so he’ll likely keep his powder dry while Lisa mulls. Vallas probably won’t be able to raise money in the Greek community as long as Alexi is keeping his options open. The same thing goes for potential LMadigan backers. Vallas’ 2002 campaign was so poorly run that he may not even be seen as a credible challenger. Plus, if Barack Obama is elected president, Giannoulias might be appointed to the US Senate.
3) Giannoulias appears to relish the chance of challenging Lisa Madigan in the 2010 gubernatorial primary, if it comes to that. Obama beat the Madigan machine in 2004 (Obama’s primary victory over Hynes) and he and Obama did it again in 2006 (Giannoulias’ primary victory over Paul Mangieri), so they’re not exactly quaking in their boots. The Alexi folks are painting the possible matchup between their guy and Madigan as a rerun of Obama vs. Clinton.
4) As far as the multi-candidate primary goes, Blagojevich might be indicted or even on trial by 2010. Also, Blagojevich’s only remaining hardcore base is among African-American voters in Chicago and Cook County. An Obama endorsement of Giannoulias (whether he wins the presidency or not) would wipe out the guv’s base.
5) AG Madigan told me a couple of weeks ago that she’s likely to announce her decision after the November election.
6) If she announces now and the ethics bill becomes law, she won’t be able to raise money from any company that does business with the administration, or has bid on contracts. She might disavow the cash anyway, but a formal declaration would legally close off that money. [Correction: A commenter is right to point out that she’ll have to formally file with the state as a candidate before that money is cut off, but raising money from those contractors after she has announced would surely be frowned upon.]
7) I’m not singling out Eric here, but a universal rule is to never take political advice from a journalist or pundit. They’re usually wrong. And I include myself in that category.
That being said, Eric doesn’t have a horrible idea. It could work. But the Madigan family is the epitome of political caution. They like to have their ducks completely in line before they make a move. It might make sense on several levels, but I don’t see it happening yet. We’ll see how the rest of the media responds.
Anything I’ve missed? Or, is Eric spot on?
…Adding… If AG Madigan announced today, she’d be drawn directly into the ongoing fight her dad is waging with Gov. Blagojevich. MJM says guv is “delusional,” Lisa is asked for comment. Etc., etc., etc. All bad.
*** UPDATE *** From Zorn…
That was quick.