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Question of the day

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

* The setup is about Rep. Bob Biggins’ vote-switch on the pension borrowing plan. As you’ll no doubt recall, Biggins voted “No” the first time the bill was called, then voted “Yes” the second time. From the Sun-Times

Cross condemned Biggins for skipping a House GOP caucus on the borrowing plan and opting instead to meet with Quinn’s chief of staff, Jerry Stermer. Cross said he’d “heard some scuttlebutt” about a possible deal Biggins cut with Quinn in exchange for his vote.

Biggins denied discussing with Stermer a possible job in the Quinn administration, which could significantly increase the nine-term lawmaker’s pension.

“I asked for nothing,” Biggins said in a hallway behind the House as one of his GOP colleagues passed by and could be heard muttering “two-faced son of a b—-.”

Some on Cross’ leadership team said there likely will be discussions about expelling Biggins from the House Republican caucus.

* Rep. Biggins’ explanation

* Leader Cross talks about Biggins’ vote

* The Question: Should Tom Cross and the House Republicans expel Rep. Biggins from the House GOP caucus? Explain.

- Posted by Rich Miller        

  1. - the Patriot - Wednesday, May 26, 10 @ 11:37 am:

    No, I don’t think you can cut a guy loose for bailing on a vote. Now if there is evidence of him being offered a job, well then he belongs on Congress where he can help the President anyway.

  2. - concerned - Wednesday, May 26, 10 @ 11:39 am:

    Rep. Cross won’t have to expel Biggins. He expelled himself when he drank the Kool-Aid. See ya, Bob, & watch the door!

  3. - Commonsense in Illinois - Wednesday, May 26, 10 @ 11:39 am:

    It would be just like House Republicans to do just that…and in the process potentially give Speaker Madigan the 71st vote. Good thinkin’ guys!

  4. - Cal Skinner - Wednesday, May 26, 10 @ 11:41 am:

    The idea is nonsense.

    How about the Republicans who refused to vote for the voucher program to give Chicago minority kids a chance at getting a decent education?

    What about the Republicans who will eventually vote for an income tax hike?

    A fiscally responsible argument can be made for borrowing the money, although the Greens have the best idea:

    State a state bank like North Dakota and borrow
    the money at a rate close to zero percent.

  5. - Montrose - Wednesday, May 26, 10 @ 11:41 am:

    Only if they expel Black too. And let Pritchard and Coulson continue to attend, but not let them talk.

  6. - Fed Up - Wednesday, May 26, 10 @ 11:41 am:

    I think there should be some sort of repercussions for him but it really won’t matter if he ends up taking a position in the administration. If he stays in the legislature I wouldn’t trust him to attend caucus meetings for fear that something confidential might be given to the dems.

  7. - wordslinger - Wednesday, May 26, 10 @ 11:42 am:

    Their treehouse, they can do whatever they want, I guess, for all the good it does.

  8. - Vandalia - Wednesday, May 26, 10 @ 11:47 am:

    Great idea. Then whenever any legislator doesnt do what his or leader wants they can be expelled. I guess you are not allowed to vote how you want anymore but rather vote only how you are told to.

  9. - InParis - Wednesday, May 26, 10 @ 11:48 am:

    This is an interesting question regarding party caucuses. It applies to Washington or Springfield and to both parties. Voters in their districts elect legislators to represent their districts. But the first thing elected officials do when they go to Washington or Springfiled is go to a caucus meeting to be told how they are going to vote the party line, OR ELSE. The OR ELSE is usually (a) we will run someone against you in the next primary, or (b) you will never get any of your legislation out of committee or presented for a vote. I cannot say whether Biggins is representing his district or not, but this idea that has gotten locked into the political system that legislators vote the party line based on what the caucus leaders tell them, is a large part of what angers many voter now.

  10. - Double D - Wednesday, May 26, 10 @ 11:50 am:

    Let me get this right…the GOP has been lamenting about the state’s fiscal health…but borrowing the money is more fiscally responsible than skipping the payment. Isn’t saving money, saving money? What should happen is that ALL OF THEM SHOULD BE EXPELLED FOR LETTING THIS ENTIRE MESS HAPPEN.

  11. - Easy - Wednesday, May 26, 10 @ 11:51 am:

    Yes–because this was not a of conscience or belief, this was a vote of pure self-service. Stermer and Madigan’s top lobbyist lieutenant orchestrated the deal with Biggins and crafted his semi-incoherent statement.

    If Biggins wants to strictly cast votes to promote his post-retirement future, then he really has no need for a caucus anyway.

  12. - Nearly Normal - Wednesday, May 26, 10 @ 11:51 am:

    Are they expelling Black? If so, you may get a “colorful” set of quotes by him.

  13. - Oswego Willy - Wednesday, May 26, 10 @ 11:52 am:

    Although Bob disappointed me, I am not a member of the caucus. Wth Bob leaving after this session, its not like his greatest fear can be realized either - the dreaded “primary opponent” that Bob looked for under every bed, and behind every hedge …

    With that premise, I don’t think he should be expeled, actually the opposite: The rest of this session, Bob Biggins should be required to share a room with his “caucus”, but, as in the Godfather II for different reasons, Tom Hagen had to leave Michael during strategy talks, making Tom feal uncomfortable at that time, Cross and Co., should “dismiss” Bob when the heart of strategy is talked about.

    The fact that he has to face those members, should he choose to go, which he should go seeing that he is a republican member of the House, is enough shame until he gets his job, retires, or his term ends

  14. - Loop Lady - Wednesday, May 26, 10 @ 11:54 am:

    What’s the point? Isn’t he retiring? I would consider it to be an honor to be expelled from this lame caucus that can’t do anything but reject any proposal put before it and never come up with anything viable that survives the legislative “process”…

  15. - been there - Wednesday, May 26, 10 @ 11:55 am:

    it’s called a house of representatives. it isn’t called a house of republicans or a house of democrats.

    right, wordslinger, they act as if it’s their treehouse in someone’s backyard and they’re all nine years old.

    my answer to the question is, “who cares?” nobody should care who paid any attention when we learned about american government in grade school.

  16. - just sayin' - Wednesday, May 26, 10 @ 11:55 am:

    Of course not, and Tom Cross won’t even try. He’s all talk and no action.

    It’s hard to think of a Republican who goes off the GOP reservation more than Tom Cross. The idea of him attacking someone else for disloyalty is absurd.

    Plus, I assume Biggins knows where a lot of Cross’ political bodies are buried. He’ll be much to afraid to go after Biggins.

    Tom Cross will just do what he always does. He’ll take a timeout in the corner until it’s time for his next hysterical hissy fit.

  17. - Willie Stark - Wednesday, May 26, 10 @ 11:56 am:

    Will Bill Black be expelled, too? The Republicans should kick Biggins to the curb as it would be another good step in the “purification” process of the Republican Party. Suzie Bassi’s primary defeat was also a welcome development in this regard. Nationally speaking, the Republicans are much further along in their efforts to purge moderates and those who evince any willingness to work in a bipartisan fashion to craft solutions to the challenges that confront a modern, complex society at a very difficult time in our history; it’s important that their Illinois brethern catch up as soon as possible.

  18. - Rich Miller - Wednesday, May 26, 10 @ 11:57 am:

    Willie Snark strikes again. lol

  19. - I'm Just Saying - Wednesday, May 26, 10 @ 11:58 am:

    Cross has lost his mind, you’ve got a guy like Biggins who has been in the house since the early 90’s who’s been a good foot solider and now you want to throw him under the bus over one vote

  20. - He needs to go - Wednesday, May 26, 10 @ 11:58 am:

    The issue here is the backroom deal. Black told the caucus up front what his intentions were. Biggins stabbed his caucus in the back. He has lost the trust of all his caucus members so that is why he has to leave.

  21. - Easy - Wednesday, May 26, 10 @ 12:02 pm:

    i don’t think anyone considers Biggins a “moderate”. The more appropriate moniker would be “self-serving”.

  22. - Oswego Willy - Wednesday, May 26, 10 @ 12:04 pm:

    Loop Lady …

    On my flip side, I could not agree more … If it was Tom Cross’ intent to NOT be like Lee A. Daniels, congratulations, you are not Lee!

    However, the HRO is no closer to getting the chamber back since Lee lost it. They seem excrutiating inept compared to the majority, and if they blame the map, the “blue” state syndrome, or lack of quality candidates, I have yet to hear any blame from the “leadership” of that caucus.

    I remember when Lee got to move MJM out of those back chamber offices and he got to have that “Speaker’s Corridor” How Cool!

    That very next election, MJM gets his gavel back, and stayed in those offices he was “banished” to, saying he wanted to save the state money on the move, “it’s ok, we will stay” … now there is a stain glass window above those doors “Michael J. Madigan, Speaker of the House” so whenever members were by the rail, they knew who was in charge …

    Lesson …Road Runner and Wylie E. Coyote …no matter how hard you try, the Road Runner has got you … just like that HRO and their Road Runner, MJM.

  23. - Yellow Dog Democrat - Wednesday, May 26, 10 @ 12:07 pm:

    Instead of kicking Biggins out of the caucus, they should be sending him a thank you card.

    The borrowing plan was the most fiscally responsible of all of the bad options out there.

    According to Black, there were atleast a dozen Republicans that wanted to vote with Biggins and Black, but were threatened not to.

    What moral high ground does Tom Cross think he’s standing on? Its okay for him to strong arm his members, but not okay for Democrats to extend an open hand?

    Tom Cross has been complaining all session that Democrats were refusing to be bipartisan. Well guess what? This is what bipartisan looks like.

  24. - Yellow Dog Democrat - Wednesday, May 26, 10 @ 12:12 pm:

    @Easy -

    I’ve talked to Biggins a few times. He’s a reasonable guy. Most importantly, he understands the state budget probably better than any member of his caucus.

    Biggins and Black voted for the bill because it was the fiscally responsible thing to do.

    Cross’s whole plan was to hold the borrowing bill hostage in hopes of pushing session into overtime.

    That was NOT going to happen.

    If Biggins and Black hadn’t stepped up to the plate, Democrats would have simply skipped the pension payments until January.

  25. - Rich Miller - Wednesday, May 26, 10 @ 12:20 pm:

    Stick to the question, please.

  26. - jonbtuba - Wednesday, May 26, 10 @ 12:20 pm:

    If the GOP wants to kick out members who try doing pragmatic things to fix the budget, it can go ahead and suffer the consequences in elections. But shouldn’t it uphold that standard for all GOP members who supported borrowing? Bill Brady backed borrowing in the primaries.

  27. - A.B. - Wednesday, May 26, 10 @ 12:24 pm:

    Nope. Can’t do it.

    Expelling him is the responsibility of the voters, otherwise you have to work with him and move forward.

    The party system only works when the members recognize that they agree on the MAJORITY of issues, not each one.

    The idea of excluding members or building a purity test would be the ultimate downfall of either political party. They will only continue to survive under the big tent mentality.

  28. - OneMan - Wednesday, May 26, 10 @ 12:28 pm:


    I would argue in some ways skipping the caucus was a bigger ‘thing’ than the vote.

  29. - 47th Ward - Wednesday, May 26, 10 @ 12:31 pm:

    No Cross and the HGOPs should not expel Biggins. It’s sort of like trying to defuse a bomb that’s already exploded. Biggins made his decision to leave the caucus last night, so what good would expelling him do, other than to give the Speaker an extra vote on other issues?

    As Rich pointed out, once the pension borrowing bill passed, it was game over for the HGOPs. Sorry guys, you’ll have to wait until next year just like the Cubs.

  30. - Easy - Wednesday, May 26, 10 @ 12:32 pm:


    Seriously–your position is that Biggins understands the budget better than anybody in the caucus? That is just incredulous on so many levels that any deeper discussion would get me banned by Rich.

    And if so, why did he vote against it twice?

    The guy cut a deal. We all know it. There are a million deals cut every day in Springfield, the difference on this one is Biggins got the spotlight shown on him and he has no good answers.

  31. - ciceor - Wednesday, May 26, 10 @ 12:45 pm:

    Binggins voted his conscience, which is what Republicans urge Democrats to do everytime there’s an appeal of the ruling of the chair. Republicans chastise Democrats for voting like lemmings. Let one Republican show independence, however, and they make him a pariah. Go figure.

  32. - Robert - Wednesday, May 26, 10 @ 1:12 pm:

    No. But they should ask him point blank to pledge not to work in the Quinn administraton. If he cut a deal in exchange for his vote, and they can nearly prove it, I wouldn’t blame them for expelling him

  33. - Bubs - Wednesday, May 26, 10 @ 1:15 pm:

    Let him go until after Brady wins, then decide what to do. He may redeem himself before this is over.

  34. - Jake from Elwood - Wednesday, May 26, 10 @ 1:17 pm:

    Pardon my naiveity on this subject, but does this happen often?
    It seems a tad extreme to bounce a legislator from the caucus based on one or even a couple of votes.

  35. - dupage progressive - Wednesday, May 26, 10 @ 1:21 pm:

    No, that’s crazy. I’m all for loyalty, but where in their oath of office, or in agreement with their leader does it say they must vote with their caucus 100% of the time, or else they get kicked out? It’s high school all over again.
    Get over it & grow up House Repubs. — and enough of the snark from the House GOP rank & file. That was immature and embarrassing what Sacia said afterward. Ridiculous.

  36. - too obvious - Wednesday, May 26, 10 @ 1:26 pm:

    It’s just more childish games from Cross and his people. Republicans have supported borrowing lots of times in the past.

    And like Cal Skinner said, it’s ridiculous to make a big deal out of Biggins’ vote when 22 House Republicans recently voted no on school vouchers. There’s no bigger betrayal than that.

    No one takes Tom Cross seriously. He would be an even bigger laughingstock if he tried anything.

  37. - Justice - Wednesday, May 26, 10 @ 1:28 pm:

    It sounds suspiciously likely that Biggins did in his team for personal gain. If he did it because of an honest difference of opinion that’s one thing, but for personal gain…that’s a dastardly deed. Maybe they had pictures?

    It obvious he isn’t welcome but geesh, there’s this little thing about ‘trust’. Sure wouldn’t him in the trenches with me in Afghanistan.

  38. - jake - Wednesday, May 26, 10 @ 1:32 pm:

    The Republicans should reconsider their practice of imposing the kind of rigid discipline on their caucus members that they attempted on this vote. And they should be especially wary of doing it on a vote like this, where they were opposing what was clearly the most fiscally responsibly option available with respect to the pension debt. Speaker Madigan is much more selective and sensible in how and when he influences the members of his caucus–which is one reason why he is the Speaker. At this point the Republican caucus looks more like a Republican Cult.

  39. - just sayin' - Wednesday, May 26, 10 @ 1:57 pm:

    Right, Biggins is the bad guy because he foiled Cross’ harebrained scheme to sow even more chaos in Springfield, and then to blame the Democrats for chaos in Springfield. Yes, the guy who voted for the most responsible plan on the table is the bad guy. Heaven forbid someone in the gop caucus would put duty ahead of Cross’ latest campaign gimmick.

    Biggins should tell Cross to bring it on. People would quickly see that the wrong guy was being expelled.

    Biggins is no prize himself, but he’s got the moral high ground in this case.

  40. - dupage progressive - Wednesday, May 26, 10 @ 2:55 pm:

    Agree with Just Saying… When, if ever, has the Speaker uninvited members of the dem. caucus from participating in his caucus meetings? Sure he freezes them out & doesn’t pay attention to them, and maybe sometimes takes away staff support, but as far as I know, he’s never turned them away from their caucus meetings (when he convenes them!).
    Cross looks like a petulant kid on this.

  41. - David Starrett - Wednesday, May 26, 10 @ 3:33 pm:

    It really doesn’t seem rational to me for the H.Repub. leadership to deliver a likely supermajority to the Democrats for use in November and January unless they know FOR SURE that Biggins plans to resign (for whatever reason) before then.

  42. - Bob's the Man - Wednesday, May 26, 10 @ 3:51 pm:

    No- Cross is an ineffective leader. You don’t lead by fear and intimidation but when you do expect whatever you get.
    Biggins is no pushover. He has his own mind and uses it! He did the right thing, at the right time for the right reason.

  43. - Bad Leader - Wednesday, May 26, 10 @ 5:05 pm:

    The only difference between this year and last year is that Cross didn’t get to make the deal this time. Biggens beat him to the punch and good for him. Cross is a poor excuse for a Republican leader and anyone following him should know that.

  44. - plutocrat03 - Wednesday, May 26, 10 @ 6:19 pm:

    If Biggens wants to run with the crooks he should caucus with them.

    I would never trust someone like him to clean out a privy.

  45. - 4 percent - Wednesday, May 26, 10 @ 7:06 pm:

    The same Tom Cross who was cutting a deal behind the scenes with Blagojevich on funding for projects?

    The same Tom Cross who cut a deal with Jay Hoffman last year and stayed away from the Republican challenger?

    The same Tom Cross who cut a $700,000 deal with Andy McKenna. Campaign contributions to HRO in exchange for his endorsement and led to the Brady candidacy.

    C’mon…give me a break. Bob Biggins is a back bencher but is a legally elected state representative. He can vote however he chooses and in this case actually chose the better fiscal vote. Sure it was a deal but it was better economically.

  46. - Pot calling kettle - Wednesday, May 26, 10 @ 11:33 pm:

    Sure, toss him! It would be a boon to state governance if both caucuses would boot more of their members. The our team, your team, no one in the middle thing has not worked out well for the state.

  47. - just sayin' - Thursday, May 27, 10 @ 6:34 am:

    Great points 4 percent. Case closed.

    Tom Cross is the one who should be expelled from all things GOP. He’s really already done it on his own.

Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.

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