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Things get weird in Saviano race

Monday, Nov 5, 2012

* My weekly syndicated newspaper column

There’s nothing quite like the spectacle of Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan when he’s out to get somebody.

Just ask state Rep. Skip Saviano (R-Elmwood Park).

The two men used to be allies, even friends. Saviano supported Madigan’s daughter when Lisa ran for state attorney general. But then Lisa turned against Saviano’s political mentor, the late Rosemont Mayor Don Stephens, blocking his dream of building a local casino because, she claimed, he was tied to the Mob. Saviano vowed revenge.

Even so, things eventually died down. Saviano kept the powerful committee chairmanship given to him by Madigan - one of only two Republicans bestowed with that privilege in the Illinois House, the other being one of Skip’s best friends.

But when Madigan cranked up his total war against then Gov. Rod Blagojevich, he eventually came to believe that Saviano, an old Blagojevich pal, had sided with the governor against him. That was the last straw. Before long, Saviano had lost his chairmanship. Then the Republican Saviano was given a new House district in the remap which was solidly Democratic. And then Madigan moved Heaven and Earth to find an opponent for the locally popular Saviano, finally convincing an almost totally unknown local Republican to switch parties and challenge the incumbent.

Madigan dumped hundreds of thousands of dollars into the campaign, forcing Saviano to work harder on his reelection than he ever has.

Saviano is a clever tactician himself, however. When Madigan lieutenant state Sen. Martin Sandoval (D-Chicago) crashed and disrupted a Latino candidates’ forum in Saviano’s district, Saviano finally got the Chicago media to pay some attention to his battle. Sen. Sandoval stood on a chair and then sat on the floor, all the while shouting that Latinos should never vote Republican. Sandoval was eventually escorted out of the church building by local police and, instead of apologizing the next day, called Saviano a racist. The Chicago media generally disdains covering local state legislative races, but that story was just too good to pass up.

Saviano ginned up the attention further by claiming that Sandoval’s actions had prompted the state’s lone Latino congressman Luis Gutierrez, a Democrat, to endorse the Republican Saviano. Never mind that Saviano had already ordered that the Gutierrez endorsement direct mail pieces be printed before Sen. Sandoval crashed the forum. But, hey, it made for a good story.

Not to be outdone, Madigan ordered up the printing of a flier featuring photos of his candidate, Kathleen Willis, and Congressman Gutierrez. “Luis Gutierrez and Kathleen Willis, Fighting for our families and our concerns!” the text underneath the photo read.

But the wildest move of the entire campaign came when a political action committee with obvious ties to Madigan popped up out of nowhere and sent direct mailers to Republicans blasting Saviano for being Speaker Madigan’s puppet.

“A vote for Skip Saviano is a vote for Mike Madigan!” blared one of the PAC’s mailers. The piece informed voters that Madigan had appointed Saviano to a committee chairmanship, claimed Saviano had contributed money to Madigan’s campaign committee and “voted 6 times to make Madigan Speaker of the House!”

“Democrat Speaker Mike Madigan calls the shots for Skip Saviano,” screamed the other mailer, which featured a photo of the two men with their arms around each other.

The political action committee was formed October 15th. Its treasurer appears to work at a law firm run by the Melrose Park Village Attorney, who was once recommended for the Justice Village Attorney position by none other than Speaker Madigan. One of the PAC’s top contributors gave $5,000 to the new group on October 19th - less than two weeks after the company contributed $10,000 to Speaker Madigan. Another company gave three contributions to Madigan’s committees totaling over $6,000 just ten days before it gave the new PAC $1,500.

I’ve seen some crazy stuff in my day, but this one pretty much took the cake.

Madigan’s people have insisted for years that Republican attempts to sully his name have not worked. But then they got behind what appeared to be a pro-Madigan group that attacked Madigan in order to help defeat a Republican state Representative. To put it another way, the Democrats took the Republican Party’s ubiquitous “Fire Madigan” mantra and turned it against a Republican legislator.

This was either a brilliant payback to the GOP or a foolish confirmation that Madigan’s name truly is toxic. Heck, it could turn out to be both.

* Related…

* Group twists U.S. Rep. Luis Gutierrez surprise Saviano endorsement in the 77th House District

* Speaker Madigan declares war on ex-ally Skip Saviano

- Posted by Rich Miller        

  1. - wordslinger - Monday, Nov 5, 12 @ 9:13 am:

    It’s quite a yarn, involving families (and Family).

    The Madigan/Blago battle was a death match. If you were going to choose sides in that one, you had have better chose wisely.

  2. - MrJM - Monday, Nov 5, 12 @ 9:37 am:

    Papa Madigan is so determined to take out Skip that he’s willing to (further) damage the family brand?

    Sorry Lisa.

    – MrJM

  3. - amalia - Monday, Nov 5, 12 @ 9:38 am:

    two more days.

  4. - Responsa - Monday, Nov 5, 12 @ 10:01 am:

    Along the political discomfort continuum scale this situation is rapidly moving from creepy into scary alarming.

  5. - Rich Miller - Monday, Nov 5, 12 @ 10:05 am:

    ===into scary alarming. ===

    Yeah. I’m just hoping nobody ends up in the Des Plaines River.

    No joke.

  6. - just sayin' - Monday, Nov 5, 12 @ 10:13 am:

    Level headed Republicans (so not Pat Brady), are united with Madigan on this one. You can’t trust or respect a double-dealer like Skip.

  7. - siriusly - Monday, Nov 5, 12 @ 10:29 am:

    CapFax once again delves into a fascinating story, the way that only you can.

    Responsa’s comment is right on. I’d be scared to be an election day volunteer in that one.

  8. - wordslinger - Monday, Nov 5, 12 @ 10:34 am:

    –Yeah. I’m just hoping nobody ends up in the Des Plaines River.–

    Historically, the preferred methods of settling disputes in the area have involved the trunk of a car parked at either the O’Hare long-term lot or at the bottom the Lyons quarry.

  9. - DuPage Dave - Monday, Nov 5, 12 @ 11:28 am:

    Word- True enough, but it seems like years since they’ve found a body in a trunk at O’Hare.

  10. - MrJM - Monday, Nov 5, 12 @ 11:31 am:

    it seems like years since they’ve found a body in a trunk at O’Hare.

    Stupid security cameras.

    – MrJM

  11. - mokenavince - Monday, Nov 5, 12 @ 11:32 am:

    Madigan’s vengence will be his downfall,to do this
    to a guy like Skip Saviano in nuts.

    His name ends in a vowel so he must be mobbed up,
    how ludicrous.

  12. - gg - Monday, Nov 5, 12 @ 11:37 am:

    My gut tells me Saviano wins 60 over 40.
    He is active and well liked on the street.
    Maybe Madigan knows something I do not.
    This really looks petty.
    Politics is not bean bag.

  13. - walkinfool - Monday, Nov 5, 12 @ 11:44 am:

    Stephens doesn’t end in a vowel.

    Skip might be straight, but he made some bad friends and allies. I still like him more than his opponent for this district.

  14. - Rich Miller - Monday, Nov 5, 12 @ 11:48 am:

    ===My gut tells me Saviano wins 60 over 40.===

    Not predicting Skip will lose by any means, but I’d take the under on that bet all day, for big bucks.

  15. - just sayin' - Monday, Nov 5, 12 @ 11:49 am:

    “His name ends in a vowel so he must be mobbed up..”

    That’s a straw man argument. Just sayin’.

  16. - wordslinger - Monday, Nov 5, 12 @ 11:49 am:

    –Stephens doesn’t end in a vowel.–

    That’s never been an issue in Chicago. Truly a diverse and multicultural enterprise.

  17. - PQ's Primary Opponent - Monday, Nov 5, 12 @ 11:49 am:

    Not sure there is really a winner in this race no matter what happens tomorrow…

  18. - Joe Bidenopoulous - Monday, Nov 5, 12 @ 11:54 am:

    I think it’s more brilliant payback than confirmation that the Madigan brand is toxic. They only sent the piece to Republicans, who are more likely to have a pre-existing negative opinion of Madigan. The pieces mostly just confirm what those voters already thought, and tie that negative opinion to Skip. I don’t think anyone would suggest that Madigan is especially popular (or even non-toxic) among dyed-the-wool R’s.

    If it’d been sent to D’s, then the confirmation meme might have more legs.

  19. - Lobo y Olla - Monday, Nov 5, 12 @ 12:34 pm:

    Not security cameras…O’Hare’s long term lot is “sniffed” by dogs every day. No more long term body storage. That was a direct result of the alleged M.O. of Tony “Big Tuna” Accardo.

  20. - Elder - Monday, Nov 5, 12 @ 12:52 pm:

    It would be a sinful pleasure to be a fly on the wall to hear the Speaker deal with Sen. Sandoval, who so foolishly upset the Speaker’s careful plans out in Melrose Park. What a disaster that man is!

  21. - Aldyth - Monday, Nov 5, 12 @ 1:05 pm:

    Capitol Fax is educational on so many levels. I learned something interesting about organized crime and politics today. Now, I just have to sort out which is which?

  22. - Esquire - Monday, Nov 5, 12 @ 1:49 pm:

    “Stephens doesn’t end in a vowel…”

    Didn’t he change his name

  23. - Anonymous - Monday, Nov 5, 12 @ 1:59 pm:

    King Madigan does not like it when he is not in complete control. This race is a perfect example of why Madigan needs to be taken down a few pegs the man is an out of control egomaniac. He has run Illinois into the ground and will not stop until he has complete control.

  24. - Cheryl44 - Monday, Nov 5, 12 @ 2:15 pm:

    Yeah, Anonymous, I heard that ad 6 times this morning between 8 and 8:30.

  25. - Loop Lady - Monday, Nov 5, 12 @ 3:24 pm:

    A friend of mine is poll watching for Skip. I’ll let you know if things get interesting, and I think they will..

  26. - Yellow Dog Democrat - Monday, Nov 5, 12 @ 9:51 pm:

    === This was either a brilliant payback to the GOP or a foolish confirmation that Madigan’s name truly is toxic. Heck, it could turn out to be both. ===

    It’s both brilliant payback AND confirmation that Madigan’s name is toxic among REPUBLICANS, atleast in Chicagoland.

    Atleast that’s how I remember the polling.

    I don’t think anyone’s ever disagreed with the fact that the Chairman of Democratic Party doesn’t poll well among Republican voters.

    If he did, I’d be pretty worried.

    I don’t have the foggiest how this is gonna turn out either.

    But if Skip wins, he better start knocking on doors for 2014 on November 7th.

  27. - Loop Lady - Tuesday, Nov 6, 12 @ 7:00 am:

    issues in Northlake with electronic voting…

Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.

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