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An attempt at real unity

Monday, May 5, 2014

* My Crain’s Chicago Business column

The Democratic Party in Illinois is dominated by powerful, entrenched politicians with huge egos who don’t really care much about each other.

It’s not that they necessarily go out of their way to hurt one another, mind you. It’s that they don’t do more than is absolutely necessary to help each other. Yet a recent summit is a sign the Democrats want to change.

Despite their long tenures, Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan and U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin don’t work together very well. Mr. Durbin was elected to the Senate in 1996 after serving in the U.S. House for 14 years.

Over the years Mr. Durbin has unofficially assumed several of the duties normally held by the state party chairman, a post held since 1998 by Mr. Madigan.

Although Mr. Madigan has focused on his House candidates to the exclusion of everyone and everything else, he doesn’t often care for the way Mr. Durbin has usurped his role.

Gov. Pat Quinn, who is up for re-election, is a longtime political outsider. He lacks the clout of Messrs. Durbin and Madigan and operates mostly in his own domain, although he often has helped lower-tiered candidates.

The same go-it-alone approach applies to organized labor. The trade unions never have loved the public employees unions, and government workers are still furious at Mr. Quinn, Mr. Madigan and Illinois Senate President John Cullerton over the pension overhaul law passed in December.

The American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees hasn’t given any money to Mr. Madigan’s campaign committees in years.

But something happened this year that has changed everything.

Click here to read the rest of the story.

- Posted by Rich Miller        


18 Comments
  1. - Langhorne - Monday, May 5, 14 @ 9:09 am:

    that reminds me of brothers who fight like hell with each other at home, but once outside the house, you cant touch one without the others coming to his aide. in other words, a common enemy unites.


  2. - Grandson of Man - Monday, May 5, 14 @ 9:19 am:

    Another great column, Rich. Thanks. Great mug shot too.

    Scapegoating unions, right to work and any anti-union proposals from a multimillionaire and his super-rich backers are apparently laying the foundation for unions and Democrats to put aside their differences and work together.

    I sincerely hope that they can gain unity, because they will need it to beat Rauner.


  3. - Walker - Monday, May 5, 14 @ 9:25 am:

    So the often quoted myth of strong unified union support for Democrats, and vice versa, might actually come true this cycle in Illinois, for the first time since the 1970’s.


  4. - PublicServant - Monday, May 5, 14 @ 9:34 am:

    ===So the often quoted myth of strong unified union support for Democrats, and vice versa, might actually come true this cycle in Illinois, for the first time since the 1970’s.===

    And I hope it doesn’t stop there because this class war has pretty much been a one-sided fight up to now, and the middle class has been taking it on the chin.

    It’s great if they unite in opposition to the mockery of democracy that the Citizen’s United enabled Rauner campaign is attempting to make of our democratic system, but their support for the Pension theft bill is going to make it tough for some people to vote for them while they’re trying to remove the knife from their backs in the voting booth.


  5. - Stones - Monday, May 5, 14 @ 9:42 am:

    Nothing like a common enemy to rally the troops. I think we all underestimated Rauner at the beginning of the campaign. He may live to regret much of the anti-union rhetoric during his primary.


  6. - VanillaMan - Monday, May 5, 14 @ 9:46 am:

    Too bad all this work is for a governor who has proven himself unable to do the job and is now fighting scandals.

    Ryan was elected this way in 1998. Blagojevich was elected this way in 2006. Quinn was elected this way in 2010.

    At what point does a majority of voters tire of this “we don’t vote them out, they get arrested” mentality?


  7. - wordslinger - Monday, May 5, 14 @ 9:58 am:

    I think Rauner’s talk of setting up a PAC to “support” GA members of both parties who make tough votes might have gotten Madigan and Cullerton’s attention.


  8. - Norseman - Monday, May 5, 14 @ 9:59 am:

    Nothing like a crisis to bring folks together.


  9. - Oswego Willy - Monday, May 5, 14 @ 10:05 am:

    The difference between ILDem Unity… And ILGOP Unity is found on Election Day.

    It’s one thing to “call to arms”, its another to actually rally around the call.

    Ominous for the ILGOP…


  10. - Upon Further Review - Monday, May 5, 14 @ 10:48 am:

    It is the history of the decline of the Republican Party in (take your pick) Chicago, Cook County and the State of Illinois. The Republicans were once the majority party in the state, but when the Democrats put an end to intra–party factionalism and insisted upon strict unity, the GOP began its long decline.


  11. - wordslinger - Monday, May 5, 14 @ 10:59 am:

    –The Republicans were once the majority party in the state, but when the Democrats put an end to intra–party factionalism and insisted upon strict unity, the GOP began its long decline.–

    “Strict unity” in the Democratic Party? Since when?

    GOP candidates that win attract Independents and Democrats. Always have.


  12. - VanillaMan - Monday, May 5, 14 @ 11:53 am:

    It is the history of the decline of the Republican Party in (take your pick) Chicago, Cook County and the State of Illinois.

    It is William Hale Thompson’s fault! If folks would just forget his terms as Chicago’s mayor, the GOP would still be a player in the Loop! His promise to punch the King of Great Britain spelled the doom of Chicago Republicans right up to today.

    When Emanuel ran in 2011, he still charged the GOP of being stooges of Thompson. It will take the Chicago GOP another eighty years to live it down. Voters are still seething at the GOP over his insult to the King and how poorly the Mayor handled the Valentine’s day massacre.


  13. - AFSCME Steward - Monday, May 5, 14 @ 12:39 pm:

    “He may live to regret much of the anti-union rhetoric during his primary.”

    His anti-union rhetoric is what made the primary close. He wins the GOP huge without last minute union intervention.


  14. - AFSCME Steward - Monday, May 5, 14 @ 12:45 pm:

    Vanilla

    “It is William Hale Thompson’s fault! If folks would just forget his terms as Chicago’s mayor, the GOP would still be a player in the Loop! His promise to punch the King of Great Britain spelled the doom of Chicago Republicans right up to today.”

    I think it was those First Ward Balls thrown by Hinky Dink & Bathhouse John that started the GOP downfall in Illinois.


  15. - VanillaMan - Monday, May 5, 14 @ 2:01 pm:

    I think it was those First Ward Balls thrown by Hinky Dink & Bathhouse John that started the GOP downfall in Illinois.

    Possibly. It got a young Dick Durbin interested in public office, so it could have!


  16. - Yellow Dog Democrat - Monday, May 5, 14 @ 2:55 pm:

    === Finding an executive director who is acceptable to everyone hasn’t been easy. ===

    Michelle Paul.


  17. - Anonymous - Monday, May 5, 14 @ 2:56 pm:

    If they want unions support they could start with back-pay!


  18. - former afscme member - Monday, May 5, 14 @ 4:49 pm:

    There is no way in Hades that I am voting for Pat Quinn, no matter what the union leadership says. The primary support for Dillard was a clear sign that there are a lot of people who do not like PQ or BR. But the fact is we got shafted by the current governor.
    I am a public service administrator in IDOC. Mine and over 1800 other AFSCME members lost our right to bargain collectively at the urging of PQ. The stink of it is that there are still hundreds of administrators employed in state agencies that were not removed from their union - ISEA. Wonder why? Because the laborers union is one of the governors largest supporters. Sweet deal.


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