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A look ahead

Tuesday, Aug 19, 2008

* The election of Senate President Emil Jones’ replacement will mean more than just a new Democratic leader, it will mean a change to the entire Statehouse atmosphere

The future of Gov. Rod Blagojevich’s relationship with the General Assembly, and with the Senate in particular, will hinge on who replaces Jones as leader of the Senate Democrats, lawmakers said. […]

Jones’ retirement “might be a greater detriment to the governor than anyone else,” said Sen. Larry Bomke, R-Springfield. But he warned that if Jones’ successor is a Blagojevich loyalist, “we’re looking at continued gridlock, I believe.”

* The AP further explains Bomke’s point

Blagojevich has depended on Jones to block legislation he opposed and pass bills intended to embarrass or pressure his nemesis, House Speaker Michael Madigan (D-Chicago). At times, Jones had to press Senate Democrats to go along with the governor.

Most recently, Jones pushed through the Senate several Blagojevich budget measures, including a multibillion-dollar capital construction plan that the House refused to approve.

Blagojevich won’t be able to count on that kind of coziness with the new president.

* A different angle from Bethany

Senate Republicans are hoping the new leader, whoever it is, opens the door to improved communication. “We’ve always been willing to walk through the door, but the Senate president and the governor have walked in lockstep together,” says Patty Schuh, spokeswoman for Senate Minority Leader Frank Watson. “And that has, unfortunately, not meant good things for Illinois.” […]

Even the House could feel a fresh, new-start feeling when the new legislative session starts in January, says Rep. Gary Hannig, a Litchfield Democrat and deputy majority leader. “There will be, sort of a, ‘It’s a new day. Let’s start over. Let’s be positive about it.”

* Cindy Canary’s quote may be going a bit far

“It represents a revolution at our capital.”

That depends on who wins.

* And the SJ-R editorializes

The next person to hold that job need not test the limits of that power by waging a pointless war with Madigan that would probably extend the Democrats’ record of failure.

The next Senate president, if he or she and Madigan work together, also could render the unpopular Gov. Rod Blagojevich mostly irrelevant. In his nearly six years in office, the governor has shown little inclination to work with legislators or govern responsibly. Jones has enabled such bad behavior.

With their complete control of state government, Democrats should have made progress on a whole host of issues from education funding to much-needed state construction money. Jones’ retirement is their second chance.

How do you think things will change, if at all?

- Posted by Rich Miller        

  1. - Deleted Daily - Tuesday, Aug 19, 08 @ 10:55 am:

    There will be no change. Emil Jones will be vindicated. There will be “business as usual” no matter which Democrat replaces him.

  2. - Don't Worry, Be Happy - Tuesday, Aug 19, 08 @ 10:59 am:

    As you said, that depends on who wins. Of the names that have been publicly mentioned, I’d have to put Hendon at one end of the spectrum and Schoenberg at the other.

    Has anyone started a betting line on this yet?

  3. - Ghost - Tuesday, Aug 19, 08 @ 11:00 am:

    It is too early to tell. There are too many names being floated about which run the Gmabit from Jones/Blago ally, to madigan Ally, to ally of neither to get a good feel.

    At this stage, if its Hendon or a strong Jones ally, its probaly same old same old, but if its somone closer to madigan or neutral it will strongly change Illinois politics. We may evcen see the recall amendment and stronger ethics bills reintroduced. And there is the potential to have the GA unite against the Gov. The process itself is subject to the infleucne by the republicans as well.

    The less covered angle I find most interesting is how this could impact the republicans, who have a potential role to play. If they sit by the sidelines then they did nothing. If they jump in and support someone then they become tied to whatever that person does. This is a real opportunity by the republicnas to regain some infleunce or ground in the Senate.

  4. - Captain Flume - Tuesday, Aug 19, 08 @ 11:06 am:

    Evolution maybe. A revolution would be Emil III not getting elected. But as far as Senate leadership, it’s a question of how many chits the eventual president has to use, or hand out, with other contenders and the non-contenders. I think any new president will change the dynamic of the super-majority sub-groups. Frankly, I don’t believe the Speaker’s influence in Senate deliberations will be changed one way or the other.

    One might hope that bricks would not be so frequently applied to some types of legislation, ethics for expample. I do think that whoever winds up with the presidency will be changed somewhat by the power the position brings with it. I just hope that the new president is benevolent in its application.

  5. - For the first time, I agree with Cindi Canary - Tuesday, Aug 19, 08 @ 11:08 am:

    I often find myself disagreeing with Cindi Canary’s reform agenda, but I think I agree with her today. There is a possibility that the General Assembly could completely change, and in the end, actually start getting things done for people. Three major elements:Jones departure, the possibility of new faces in the Houses, and the fact that Madigan has been pressured by his caucus to give Blago the olive branch (even if no one really trusts Blago).

    Jones departure COULD mark a new beginning for the Senate, but only if the members select someone that is willing to cross the aisle to work with Rebublicans and cross the hall to work with the House. This means they cannot choose Hendon, Link, or a Jones crony.

    I hate to put the pressure on the new President, but it will be up to this person to reconcile the fractured General Assembly. Jones never thought Madigan respected him, and frankly that may be the case. The new President has to be willing to “agree to disagree” with Madigan without completely alienating him.

    And as for Madigan - well, a new President, and a new General Assembly, might lighten the old guy up. If you look at the democratic races, there is the possibility of electing about a half a dozen new members that are under 40. These new members aren’t beholden to Madigan - even if he does help them with their campaigns.

  6. - Bruno Behrend - Tuesday, Aug 19, 08 @ 11:47 am:

    These new members aren’t beholden to Madigan - even if he does help them with their campaigns.

    You’re kidding, right?

    I just hope that the new president is benevolent in its application.

    You’re kidding, right?

    The less covered angle I find most interesting is how this could impact the republicans, who have a potential role to play.

    You’re kidding, right?

  7. - Team Sleep - Tuesday, Aug 19, 08 @ 11:49 am:

    Can it get any worse?!

    I think we (as a state) will benefit. Once a Senate president is elected, the gridlock could be lifted and Blago will hopefully realize his last pal is not there to prop him up.

    Canary’s assertion may be true if someone not like Emil is elected as the head of the Senate.

  8. - Little Egypt - Tuesday, Aug 19, 08 @ 11:52 am:

    Hendon=no change.

    Anyone else=hope.

  9. - jj - Tuesday, Aug 19, 08 @ 12:01 pm:

    Strange - not much talk of the serious hell that we will find ourselves in if it is a Madigan ally in the Senate president’s slot.

    Seriously. That seems like it would lead to all-out pain.

    Why not any talk of someone who will just be a strong leader of the Senate, and not bow to outside attempts at meddling in the Senate’s business?

  10. - Rich Miller - Tuesday, Aug 19, 08 @ 12:01 pm:

    Bruno, the Repubs may actually play a role in this. Stay tuned.

  11. - wordslinger - Tuesday, Aug 19, 08 @ 12:03 pm:

    I suspect Blagojevich will no longer have the Senate on his side. Jones was unusual in his steadfast support for an unpopular executive with so much federal heat.

    I don’t understand the talk about working with the GOP in the Senate. Why? You earn relevance when you win seats.

  12. - Rich Miller - Tuesday, Aug 19, 08 @ 12:03 pm:

    ===Strange - not much talk of the serious hell that we will find ourselves in if it is a Madigan ally in the Senate president’s slot.===

    By “we” I assume you mean Tom Cross?


  13. - Rich Miller - Tuesday, Aug 19, 08 @ 12:05 pm:

    wordslinger, the answer can be found within the number “30″

  14. - anon - Tuesday, Aug 19, 08 @ 12:12 pm:

    Simple. It will greatly enhance the speaker’s obstructionist inclinations and abilities. Bad for democrats. Welcome to the new Illinois democrat. Warmed over republicans.

  15. - wordslinger - Tuesday, Aug 19, 08 @ 12:13 pm:

    Rich, I suspect you’re implying some sort of power play in which a rogue group of Democrats elects a leader by allying with the GOP minority.

    A very dangerous game. I’d advise against it. Gaining the post by such treachery would make it worthless, I think.

  16. - Rich Miller - Tuesday, Aug 19, 08 @ 12:16 pm:

    ===a rogue group of Democrats elects a leader by allying with the GOP minority.===

    I doubt there will be anything rogue about it.

  17. - Gregor - Tuesday, Aug 19, 08 @ 12:43 pm:

    Hendon= disaster. Of that I am convinced.
    Emil’s announcement has many ripples coming off of it. Now he’s a lame duck, some (not all) of his political capital has devalued quite a bit. Holding the entire caucus together and getting them to vote his way by carrot and stick becomes much harder. The price of that loyalty has escalated.

    While there was continuity, there were consequences to defying Emil. Now yes, he could still throw some money around to reward or punish candidates that cross him. He can still call in many favors. However, with all the competitors vying for the throne, deals will be struck without Emil at their center. Not all upcoming votes will go his way from this point forward. He’s going to have to pick his battles more carefully.

    To me, this signals a better chance than ever for Madigan to push his agenda, his mini-capital bill, etc. The best Emil can do now is obstruct, but I see his power to advance bills as eroding.

    As for Rod, well, it doesn’t look very good, not at all.

  18. - Trent Green's Clipboard - Tuesday, Aug 19, 08 @ 12:44 pm:

    The SJ-R says “he or she,” but in fact, none of the candidates being talked about is female. Admittedly, some of the women in the Senate Democratic caucus are new, but some are veterans and at least as capable as some of the men whose names have been floated. Several of the male potential candidates are quite good, but it is noteworthy that after all of the talk of testosterone at the statehouse, the announced candidates (at least so far) are all men.

  19. - Rich Miller - Tuesday, Aug 19, 08 @ 12:47 pm:

    ===none of the candidates being talked about is female===


  20. - cover - Tuesday, Aug 19, 08 @ 12:48 pm:

    Rich, isn’t it true that the vote for Senate President is open to all Senators, not just the Democrats? Assuming this is correct, if the Dems are split and offer more than one candidate for the office, the GOP members’ votes could swing the election.
    While I don’t expect this to happen, there is the possibility. If the Dems can’t settle on a leader and offer the choice between the status-quo candidate Sen. Hendon and “new way” candidate ____ [fill in nearly any other Dem], it would only take 8 out of the 37 Dems plus all 22 GOP votes to seat the “new way” candidate as President.

  21. - Ghost - Tuesday, Aug 19, 08 @ 12:55 pm:

    == a [savy] group of Democrats elects a leader by allying with the GOP minority. ===

    I fixed your quote for you Word.

  22. - Trent Green's Clipboard - Tuesday, Aug 19, 08 @ 12:56 pm:

    Rich, did I miss something? I think Sebelius would be a great VP choice, but I was talking about Illinois Senate President. Sorry if it wasn’t clear.

  23. - Rich Miller - Tuesday, Aug 19, 08 @ 12:59 pm:

    LOL. Sorry. Looking at wrong post.

  24. - Trent Green's Clipboard - Tuesday, Aug 19, 08 @ 1:09 pm:

    Thanks, Rich. A lot to keep track of these days!

  25. - Yellow Dog Democrat - Tuesday, Aug 19, 08 @ 1:17 pm:

    “In his nearly six years in office, the governor has shown little inclination to work with legislators or govern responsibly.”

    The SJ-R could have saved a little ink:

    “In his nearly six years in office, the governor has shown little inclination to work or govern.”

  26. - Been There - Tuesday, Aug 19, 08 @ 1:41 pm:

    Hopefully the new Senate President will let some of the bills that have the “rules language” in them move. A lot of those potential laws would never have any rules promulgated anyways and they should be allowed to pass.

    At least our industry’s bill should.


  27. - Yellow Dog Democrat - Tuesday, Aug 19, 08 @ 1:48 pm:

    Things will change, no matter what.

    I doubt that a Blagojevich loyalist can muster 30 votes for Senate President. Emil Jones struggled to muster 30 votes for many Blagojevich measures.

    First, there are about 18 Senate Democrats in who’s districts Rod is polling near zero degrees Kelvin.

    And let’s take a walk down memory lane:

    Blagojevich nearly an hour late for Vince Demuzio’s funeral.

    Emil & Hendon double-cross Sen. Forby, downstate caucus hung out to dry for a year over electric rates.

    Rod double-crosses Meeks.

    Latino Caucus splits with Jones over leadership appointment.

    Rod and Sen. Jacobs nearly come to blows.

    South suburban senators stymied on education reform.

    Sen. Viverito balks on Gross Receipts Tax.

    Garrett publicly flogged by her own leaders.

    But even if one of Rod’s Senate minions does manage to patch together 30 votes for Senate President - and Sen. Hendon would need the entire Latino Caucus to make that happen - they’ll have nothing close to a functional majority when it comes to doing Rod’s heavy lifting.

    Let’s also not forget that you’ve got five former House Democrats in the Illinois Senate now, and I’d guess atleast another three or four who have a pretty good working relationship with the Speaker.

    A couple of other folks we haven’t heard from:

    Sen. Meeks, whose vote is surely contingent on a pledge to move education funding reform legislation that includes a tax swap.

    Sen. DeLeo, whose campaign has more than $600,000 in the bank.

    Contrast that with:

    Hendon - $18K
    Schoenberg - $214K
    Cullerton - $206K
    Harmon - $150K

    Clayborne is sitting on $723K, and me thinks he’s the only Senator with a larger bankroll than DeLeo. The next Senate President will probably need one of these men in their corner.

  28. - Been There - Tuesday, Aug 19, 08 @ 1:52 pm:

    The only way the repubs get a say in this is if they are asked. You can’t dance at the dance unless you are asked to go. That may happen given the current state of affairs in the democrat party. But that call shouldn’t be made too early. If your caucus finds out you went that route early and you don’t become Mr. Pres. then you might have as much chance of your bills passing as Frank Watson does.

  29. - A Citizen - Tuesday, Aug 19, 08 @ 1:56 pm:

    Not to be overlooked is the possible impact of Fitz and Co. as there is plenty of time for him to throw a monkey wrench into the works. We might need more than a new Sen.Pres. Also I am beginning to seriously wonder just how broad a net he may have cast. Could be quite a fish fry!

  30. - Team Sleep - Tuesday, Aug 19, 08 @ 1:59 pm:

    YDD: ZING! Kaboom to you, sir.

  31. - unspun - Tuesday, Aug 19, 08 @ 2:01 pm:

    this is watson’s only chance at making the SGOP relevant over the next two years. If he is worth his salt, he will unify his caucus to vote for a favored candidate. He should call of the candidates in to see what they are selling, and deliver his 22 votes for the best deal. The Senate Dems are highly factioned, so his 22 votes are premium. If he fails, there should be a new minority leader as well.

  32. - Black Ivy - Tuesday, Aug 19, 08 @ 2:04 pm:

    Senate Presidnet Jones’ legacy will live on, particularly in the African-American community. May he enjoy his much-deserved retirement.

    From Cullerton to Hendon to Schoenburg to Claybourne, these are all capable candidates with very differing views on leadership.

    We will have to wait and see what becomes of this regime change, but it promises to be one heck of a ride.

    P.S. Governor Blagojevich will work well with whomever is in the Preosident’s role as he has a stake in getting back in the good graces of the General Assembly. All will be well.

  33. - Ghost - Tuesday, Aug 19, 08 @ 2:16 pm:

    Unspun, I agree.

    == Governor Blagojevich will work well with whomever is in the Preosident’s role as he has a stake in getting back in the good graces of the General Assembly. All will be well. ==

    Either the next majority leader is someone who will carry the Gov’s water, or there will be conflict bewteen the Gov and the leader. The Gov has never once cared about the good graces of the general Assembly, or the people of the State of Illinois.

  34. - Captain Flume - Tuesday, Aug 19, 08 @ 2:18 pm:

    BB 11:47 a.m. : “You’re kidding, right?”

    I never kid about the things I hope for, but I might about what I expect.

  35. - Bruno Behrend - Tuesday, Aug 19, 08 @ 5:06 pm:


    I’m sure you are correct on the Republican playing some role.

    (2 out of 3 isn’t bad)

    I guess my view is that even if they do play some role, they have a wonderful knack for blowing an opportunity.

  36. - Bob - Tuesday, Aug 19, 08 @ 5:12 pm:

    What makes you think that Madigan is going to stick around. Perhaps he is kicking around retirement. One never knows….

  37. - Ghost - Tuesday, Aug 19, 08 @ 8:26 pm:

    === What makes you think that Madigan is going to stick around. Perhaps he is kicking around retirement. One never knows…. ===

    one can win the lottory too, but I wouldn’t go out and start spending that anticipated jackpot prize money just yet.

  38. - Six Degrees of Separation - Tuesday, Aug 19, 08 @ 9:22 pm:

    speaking of the IL Senate-

    Did they pass SB 1116 today (the “mini-capital bill”)? This is the compromise measure amended by the House to ensure the federal transportation earmarks have matching state money this year. ILGA website says it was in order to be called but no action shown.

  39. - Disgusted - Tuesday, Aug 19, 08 @ 9:37 pm:

    How can Hollywood Hendon be serious about wanting this job? He’s just been implicated in another shady scheme involving state funds winding up in the pockets of his friends and relatives. Does he think the general public and his fellow Senators are stupid. The person who gets Emil job had better be squeaky clean.

  40. - Quizzical - Tuesday, Aug 19, 08 @ 11:18 pm:

    My guess is that after this is over, we’ll still have a 2-1 stalemate, but with Blago in the minority. I can’t imagine a coalition of members, now that Emil and Carol Ronen are gone, who want to stomach another pro-Blago President.

    Cullerton makes a lot of sense, but he’s a white northsider, and Speaker Mike and Lisa M. may want to avoid the further appearance of ethno-geographic imbalance at the top of state government.

    There are so many competing forces in play that a compromise not very satisfying for most interested parties might be the result.

    I could see a few moderate Republicans making deals to support a Dem., but there’s no way the Dems. will let Watson himself have a voice.

  41. - FOE - Wednesday, Aug 20, 08 @ 3:05 am:

    Can we pause to recall that Emil Jones steadfastly stood tall for education even before it became popular and give him some credit? I hope his replacement will continue that legacy, as education needs strong champions.

  42. - Captain America - Wednesday, Aug 20, 08 @ 7:20 am:

    Almost anyone, except Ricky Hendon, would be an improvement over thr Great Enabler’s ‘tenure during the last two years.

    No Blago allies need apply for the job. Governor A has burned all his bridges and has no significant friends or allies left in Springfield or anywhere else - other than state contractors. Pinnochio’s bizarre leadership style will not be enhanced by the Senate leadership change. But I think the House and the Senate leadership will work better together with a new Senate President.

    Hendon has no chance. Trotter does not appear to be a serious contender. But the other names floated seem like credible and competent people. I’m pulling for my hometown progressive Committeman/Senator Schoenberg, but I really like Senator Cullerton too. I have no objection to Claybourne, but I don’t know a great deal about his personal leaderhsip qualities, his personal ethics, or his political astuteness that would affect his performance as a Statewide level. I don’t see him as any kind of reformer.

    I’d bet on Cullerton, but Claybourne probably is the dark horse, becasue Ricky Hendon needs to blocked from ascending to the Senate Presidency.

    Since it is a wide open race, I expect that we will end up with an interim leadership troika, rather than another all-powerful Senate President with absolute control.

    It’s time for change in Springfield. We need a new Governor, a new Senate President, and a new Speaker to change the culture of corruption in State government. I look forward to the revolution thas Cindy Canary envisions, but it may not happen for a few more years.

  43. - "Stirring In His Grave" Abe - Wednesday, Aug 20, 08 @ 8:27 am:

    What if Illinois Democrat senators got the courage to choose well-respected Illinois State Senator A. J. Wilhelmi to replace Emil Jones? What if GOP state senators went along with it since Senator Wilhelmi is new, is considered fair, and is still uncorrupted by strictly partisan politics?

    Wouldn’t this make for an excellent “first step” for our state’s “honest” political representatives to breathe new life and effective government into our state of Illinois? Illinois voters have a dream ————!

  44. - VanillaMan - Wednesday, Aug 20, 08 @ 8:28 am:

    ==How do you think things will change, if at all?==

    It depends on who replaces him. If they want to be an effective leader, then we will see important changes. If they like the game Jones has been playing with Blagojevich, then it will not.

    If they have no faith in our state economy growing us out of the doldrums, then they will return to the “fighting pigs at a shrinking trough” that Jones did so well.

  45. - skeptica - Wednesday, Aug 20, 08 @ 10:20 am:

    aNY DISCUSSION OF Illinois democratic power is useless and unrealistic unless you consider who will be president.In the past years Illinois corruption of politics has been exposed and attacked like never before [well maybe the Untouchables”]-no commentor of Illinois polly folly seems to look forward to Obama’s impending presidency with an immediate change of the Northern District’s U.S. Attorney. This will be one of the first presidental “Changes” in order to protect the Cook Co. machine that he comes from-that means any possibilty of Illinois Pay TO Play corruption AND the general corruption of the political process will be a thing of the past-we may even get a third term governor if enough money is generated

Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.

* Reader comments closed for the weekend
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