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Madigan’s “elevator pitch”

Thursday, Jun 18, 2015 - Posted by Rich Miller

* Years ago, I ran into George Ryan at a Greek restaurant in Chicago. He was still governor back then, although it was late in his term.

Ryan sat down at my table after a while and we chatted about various stuff. I don’t really remember. Pretty soon, though, some folks at the next table came over and asked the governor if he would take a picture with them. They were all smiles and said very nice things to him.

Ryan came back and said he just couldn’t believe all those negative polls about him because this sort of thing happened to him all the time.

I didn’t want to spoil his moment, but I knew then and still know now that people are pretty much always that way around “celebrities.” If you’re on the teevee, folks are generally nice to you.

Heck, they’re even nice to me. I don’t think a stranger has ever once picked a fight with me over something I’ve written. Notice, I said “stranger.”


* So, I’m hoping the Speaker doesn’t actually believe this

Asked whether Madigan felt his own message was getting out to the public, the speaker responded: ”Our encounters with people would say yes,” Madigan said.

What types of encounters?

“People that I rode with in the elevator this morning, who said they didn’t quite understand why a TV commercial would be run in the middle of a legislative session, when we’re several months after an election and many, many more months before the next election.”

It’s no surprise to me that folks who found themselves on the same elevator with a very powerful politician would try to take his side on something.

Anyway, it was just kind of a weird thing to say and, again, I hope he doesn’t really believe that.


  1. - A guy - Thursday, Jun 18, 15 @ 9:10 am:

    I think he might believe it. After years of not taking these kinds of things with a grain of salt. The whole “I don’t understand why you would run ads after an election is not the strong message I would push.” It’s evasive about what the ad is saying. People are skeptical, especially the ones who are paying attention. The ads ensure more people are paying attention.

    It’s pretty weak sauce.

  2. - A guy - Thursday, Jun 18, 15 @ 9:10 am:

    *After years of not taking these things with more than a grain of salt. Sorry.

  3. - Anonin' - Thursday, Jun 18, 15 @ 9:14 am:

    Uh Oh Sparky Looks Like another TeamBungle idol takin’ it in the neck….Indiana Poll Suggests Gov. Pence Vulnerable In Wake Of Religious Law Controversy

    The Indianapolis Star Share to Facebook Share to Twitter reported that a Bellwether Research survey of 1,000 Indiana voters, taken May 29-June 3, shows Gov. Mike Pence’s (R) “reputation has continued to plummet following a controversy over Indiana’s” Religious Freedom Restoration Act, “with 54 percent of voters saying they favor a new governor” and less than one-third saying “they would re-elect” the Republican in 2016. In hypothetical 2016 general-election matchups, the poll shows ex-state House Speaker John Gregg leading Pence 41%-40%, while state schools chief Glenda Ritz and Pence are tied at 42%. Gregg – who was narrowly defeated by Pence in 2012 – and Ritz are battling in the Democratic primary. The survey, which was commissioned by “former Angie’s List CEO Bill Oesterle, a staunch RFRA opponent,” shows Pence’s favorability rating underwater at 34%/43%, down “six points since a similar poll in April, shortly after the uproar surrounding” RFRA.

  4. - Ghostbusters - Thursday, Jun 18, 15 @ 9:14 am:

    … wife and I saw the commercial last night at the tail end of the 10pm news.

    She has no idea anything about the budget or the “non-budget items” or the “turnaround agenda” etc.

    She’s no fan of the Speaker but without prompting she turns to me and says - Isn’t the election over? What is this crap?

    That’s the impression I get from a lot of Sunday driver/Election Day voters.

  5. - Georg Sande - Thursday, Jun 18, 15 @ 9:20 am:

    He doesn’t really believe it, Rich. He hopes, however, his loyal subjects do.

  6. - A guy - Thursday, Jun 18, 15 @ 9:22 am:

    Ghost, she knows you care alot. Are you sure that wasn’t just foreplay?

  7. - Robert the Bruce - Thursday, Jun 18, 15 @ 9:22 am:

    Hope he doesn’t believe it either.

    I bet Rauner hears the same thing, and I hope he also doesn’t believe it.

  8. - Bedbug - Thursday, Jun 18, 15 @ 9:22 am:

    Madigan is much smarter than that. He’ll look at poll data. It’s too soon for any other type of comment (and I doubt anyone will get anything substanative out of him anyway).

  9. - John A Logan - Thursday, Jun 18, 15 @ 9:23 am:

    I have no idea what relevance the post from “Anonin” has to this particular subject.

  10. - VanillaMan - Thursday, Jun 18, 15 @ 9:24 am:

    Michael J. Madigan has survived this long by knowing what to say, and what others say about him.

    He has a staff of professionals that he pays to tell him the objective facts, sans spin, so that he stays afloat.

  11. - anon - Thursday, Jun 18, 15 @ 9:25 am:

    Ghost, with all due respect you say she has no idea……then proceeds to wonder what is this crap. Would be similar to me asking my wife her thoughts on the double switch in baseball, she would say what is that crap.

    MM’s staffers would likely say that type of thing to MM while on the elevator with him.

  12. - Very Fed Up - Thursday, Jun 18, 15 @ 9:26 am:

    Hopefully this was tongue in cheek. Surely Madigan has to have some grasp on just how disliked he is in this state.

  13. - 1776 - Thursday, Jun 18, 15 @ 9:27 am:

    The mushrooms will squirm if and when the ads mention them.

  14. - Oswego Willy - Thursday, Jun 18, 15 @ 9:30 am:

    - 1776 -,

    Rauner needs 40 mushrooms.

    It would be foolish until a budget is passed, a contract is signed, and schools open to go beyond MJM or Cullerton.

  15. - Wordslinger - Thursday, Jun 18, 15 @ 9:35 am:

    The question wasnt to his personal popularity, but the message.He was asked a question and answered. What’s he supposed to say, “No, we’re failing.”

    Ghost, I guess it’s probably a good idea not to mention the wife. Some people can’t control themselves.

  16. - Anon - Thursday, Jun 18, 15 @ 9:39 am:

    He may be out of touch, but I also dont think that people who say that Governor Rauner’s full agenda has the support of the majority of Illinoisans because of his election. Lets face it, this man is willing to say whatever. If he ran his campaign on the issues that he has elaborated on since being elected (instead of constantly saying “we will have a detailed plan on that very soon”), we would probably still have Governor Quinn. While the Speaker’s estimation of where voters opinions truly are may be off base, those who think that the governor’s election reflects the electorate’s desire to see full implementation of the Turnaround Agenda are equally off. My guess is that most Illinoisans, while not fond of the Speaker, agree with his message of moderation.

  17. - Anonymous - Thursday, Jun 18, 15 @ 9:42 am:

    It sounds like Madigan was making a joke. His sense of humor, such as it is, is pretty dry. I’ve shared an elevator with him at the Capitol a few times and he knows how people react to him.

  18. - Shark Sandwich - Thursday, Jun 18, 15 @ 9:43 am:

    People hate ads. People hate campaign ads even more. He’s right to point out there is a segment of people who would be vexed/aggravated by campaign ads outside campaign season. However, being annoyed with these ‘campaign’ ads does not equate to having received the Speaker’s message or his message getting out there.

  19. - Doofman - Thursday, Jun 18, 15 @ 9:43 am:

    I posted this yesterday and didn’t see any replies so I’ll throw it out there again in this new context: does anyone have any data on public opinion of political ads in general? Because while the first part of Madigan’s statement (about his message getting out) may or may not be true, I wouldn’t be at all surprised to find that the public is confused by and generally views negatively a massive political ad campaign outside the boundaries of the normal election seasons. This doesn’t mean the ad blitz won’t have any effect, but it may mean it could have a different effect than most people anticipate.

  20. - ChiTownSeven - Thursday, Jun 18, 15 @ 9:45 am:

    A guy -

    Your quip to Ghost raised an involuntary chuckle at this end. I think Rich has to give you some kind of award.

  21. - Skeptic - Thursday, Jun 18, 15 @ 9:46 am:

    “Surely Madigan has to have some grasp on just how disliked he is in this state.” Well, 1) He’s wildly popular in his own district, and 2) His unpopularity doesn’t translate well to how popular the other representatives are in their respective districts. Otherwise the “Fire Madigan” strategy would have worked years ago.

  22. - Ahoy! - Thursday, Jun 18, 15 @ 9:47 am:

    I think Madigan is a political genius but is horrible at governing and is to blame for a lot of our problems in this state. I highly doubt I would ever say that to his face.

  23. - Rod - Thursday, Jun 18, 15 @ 9:51 am:

    Rich your point was well taken and I suspect also applies to our Governor. But I am not really sure the Governor cares much about his popularity so long as the program he is advocating becomes law.

  24. - Ahoy redux - Thursday, Jun 18, 15 @ 9:55 am:

    Years of being agreed with may have made MJM believe he’s always right. No one has been willing to disagree with him for fear of reprisal, though they may have wanted to. Now billionaire Bruce wants the fight, but he’s not trained to do it in an effective way. Sad days ahead for Illinois.

  25. - VanillaMan - Thursday, Jun 18, 15 @ 9:57 am:

    Would be similar to me asking my wife her thoughts on the double switch in baseball, she would say what is that crap.

    Not at all. Few participate in baseball while every citizen can participate in voting. That is why we don’t see ads about double switching in baseball. This is very different.

    My wife is an active citizen with zero interest in politics. However, she cares deeply about baseball.

    Bottom line seems to be that your comment may be construed to some as blatantly sexist - as well as just plain wrong, right?

  26. - Rich Miller - Thursday, Jun 18, 15 @ 9:59 am:

    ===I don’t think a stranger has ever once picked a fight with me over something I’ve written===

    Even so, I am always a bit hesitant to respond when somebody says “Hey, are you Rich Miller?” One never knows what evil lurks in the hearts of men. lol

  27. - Streator Curmudgeon - Thursday, Jun 18, 15 @ 10:03 am:

    I’m sure Madigan is the ultimate realist to have lasted this long. But does he care about popularity? Would being the most-hated politician in Illinois affect what he wants to do?

    On the one hand you’ve got a governor who is proposing draconian cuts. On the other hand you have a Speaker whose leadership has taken Illinois into a very deep hole.

    Madigan won’t have any trouble getting re-elected. But Rauner? It could be a very long 3 1/2 years for all of us.

  28. - Chris - Thursday, Jun 18, 15 @ 10:08 am:

    I’m often the building his law office is in. Next time I see him, perhaps I’ll try out the opposite tack–something like “I don’t think Rauner’s right, but why are you still so wrong?”

  29. - Anonymous - Thursday, Jun 18, 15 @ 10:09 am:

    Simply put: His world is not our world.

  30. - Six Degrees of Separation - Thursday, Jun 18, 15 @ 10:13 am:

    Years of being agreed with may have made MJM believe he’s always right.

    I’d be inclined to disagree; history tells us that most people who surround themselves with “yes men” don’t last 40 years in a position of power in a democracy; something always trips them up along the way…and even sometimes in a dictatorship or monarchy.

  31. - A guy - Thursday, Jun 18, 15 @ 10:18 am:

    === ChiTownSeven - Thursday, Jun 18, 15 @ 9:45 am:

    A guy -

    Your quip to Ghost raised an involuntary chuckle at this end. I think Rich has to give you some kind of award.===

    CT7, I wouldn’t ever expect him to take such a risk! lol.

    Kidding Mr. Ghost. I’m sure his wife is a wonderful lady.

  32. - 47th Ward - Thursday, Jun 18, 15 @ 10:18 am:

    ===I hope he doesn’t really believe that===

    Me too. Any politician that believes his own bull—- is asking for trouble. They all want to project a great image but sometimes forget that it’s only an image and the real things always has flaws. The ones who start thinking they don’t have any flaws are the ones that go down hard. Self-awareness is a survival skill in politics.

    Having said that, remember, Mike Madigan allowed his own campaign team to use him as a negative attack in the Saviano-Willis race. I’m not too worried about the Speaker’s sense of self awareness. It looks healthy to me.

  33. - Anonymous - Thursday, Jun 18, 15 @ 10:26 am:

    If the speaker wants to get his message out,the governor has already done the ground work embrace those who turned on the turnaround. He has divided the state with this stunt

  34. - Apocalypse Now - Thursday, Jun 18, 15 @ 10:27 am:

    =The mushrooms will squirm if and when the ads mention them=
    Also, the thought of a million dollars or more put into a campaign against them at election time. Now, that will make them scared. Can Madigan assure them of resources to match?

  35. - Ahoy redux - Thursday, Jun 18, 15 @ 10:40 am:

    6 Degrees - Fullerton and Madier pointed out the issue with the only pension reform MJM would allow to move. Even when disagreed with, it ends up his way or the highway. The same is positioned to happen on this budget challenge. So if you believe those close to him argue or disagree with him, I haven’t seen it. Maybe years ago, but not since the Blago years when I started watching.

  36. - Formerly Known As... - Thursday, Jun 18, 15 @ 10:44 am:

    ==it ends up his way or the highway==

    Bingo. And now we have two childish ==negotiators==, one on each side, neither willing to compromise.

  37. - anon - Thursday, Jun 18, 15 @ 11:01 am:

    Not sexist Vanillaman, not wrong. I just brought up the example to my wife, and her response was she couldn’t care less about a double switch and she enjoys sports.

    And, if you think more people care about politics than baseball or football or…. then you need to look around more.

  38. - Soccertease - Thursday, Jun 18, 15 @ 11:12 am:

    hey Rich, wanna fight? There’s a 1st time for everything. lol

  39. - Anonymous - Thursday, Jun 18, 15 @ 11:18 am:

    “- Rich Miller - Thursday, Jun 18, 15 @ 9:59 am:”

    In your case, I would think that you have only supporters. I can not see why someone would be upset with you because all sides are represented. As far as State Workers are concerned, I think that you are highly respected among them. I know that my wife and her coworkers all talk about Capitolfax.

  40. - Oswego Willy - Thursday, Jun 18, 15 @ 11:47 am:


    To the Post,

    I would hope MJM doesn’t believe it. That is my hope

    If it’s a throwaway line, not looking for a follow-up, then it’s just politics at play, all of us “in” on the ruse, even worth a chuckle.

    I do find it fascinating MJM went “there” no matter the context of belief, snark, or political gamesmanship.

  41. - Six Degrees of Separation - Thursday, Jun 18, 15 @ 11:52 am:

    6 Degrees - Fullerton and Madier pointed out the issue with the only pension reform MJM would allow to move

    There is still speculation that SB1 was a calculated move by both parties and destined for failure, endorsed by MJM as a political move to say “we tried to fix the pension by a maximum amount” and to throw up hands when ISC issued its predictable ruling. After all, he didn’t find “4 ISC judges”.

  42. - Ahoy redux - Thursday, Jun 18, 15 @ 12:10 pm:

    if it was a ‘calculated move’ - then we clearly have elected people to lead Illinois who are more interested in their own ambitions, agendas, and power - than in the rule of law. It is a constitutional question, everyone knew it, and if they went forward all in with a ‘calculated move’ - that is the largest indictment of all. Is nothing sacred in this ridiculous quest to gain and hold power?

  43. - Ghostbusters - Thursday, Jun 18, 15 @ 12:24 pm:

    @ A Guy - Middle of the work week man - we were too tired. :)

    @ Anon 9:25 - She knows Rauner is the gov and Madigan is the Speaker. But, she doesn’t know about the fire hydrants they’ve been marking for the past few weeks.

    The point is that she’s a lot like most voters out there - tired of campaign commercials during campaigns and wondering why some politician is airing a campaign commercial now.

  44. - Michael Westen - Thursday, Jun 18, 15 @ 12:28 pm:

    Six Degrees,

    Do you really believe the Speaker is surrounded by “yes” men?

    I don’t know the Speaker well (who does?), and of course have never been in his meetings. But I do know some of his top advisers, and I have never thought of them as shrinking violets.

    As opposed to “yes” men, I get the impression that the Speaker wants his guys to give it to him straight.

    Seems to me that his operation runs too smoothly to tolerate “yes” men hanging around.

  45. - Juvenal - Thursday, Jun 18, 15 @ 12:33 pm:

    My wife is baffled by the Rauner ads.

    Any pro will tell you that hardcore Republicans will love them, hardcore Democrats will hate them, and the folks in the middle will say “What is this crap?”

    THAT is not in the Governor’s interest, because he needs bipartisan outcomes in the legislature, not a partisan atmospehere.

  46. - A guy - Thursday, Jun 18, 15 @ 1:14 pm:

    === Ghostbusters - Thursday, Jun 18, 15 @ 12:24 pm:

    @ A Guy - Middle of the work week man - we were too tired. :) ===

    Ghost. lol. I hear you man. Recognize my comment for what it was…flat out jealousy! Dig you dude.

  47. - Formerpol - Thursday, Jun 18, 15 @ 1:14 pm:

    How is mailing out hit pieces against legislators during the session qualitatively any different from running tv commercials during session??

  48. - anonymous this time - Thursday, Jun 18, 15 @ 1:15 pm:

    Mr. Rauner doesn’t realize that to many people downstate, HE is from Chicago. Unless it is their own, or maybe a neighboring, representative or senator, everybody in the legislature is from Chicago or Cook County.
    Heck, to a lot of people way downstate, anything north of say, Pontiac, is a suburb of Chicago….

  49. - Ghostbusters - Thursday, Jun 18, 15 @ 2:30 pm:

    A Guy - no prob. I cracked up that Mrs. Ghost became the topic. She’ll just roll her eyes at “that political junk”.

  50. - Dave W - Thursday, Jun 18, 15 @ 4:39 pm:

    Well. Rich…..
    Here’s what I can tell you as FACT:
    1) I WAS the guy on the elevator. 2) I voted for Rauner. 3) I believe that the Speaker understood my frustration with the Governor’s approach. And, 4) there was ZERO attempt on my part to “take his side”.

  51. - Ghostbusters - Thursday, Jun 18, 15 @ 4:44 pm:

    @ Formerpol - “How is mailing out hit pieces against legislators during the session qualitatively any different from running tv commercials during session??”

    Why don’t you ask Rauner’s right-wing allies at AFP?

  52. - Six Degrees of Separation - Thursday, Jun 18, 15 @ 5:13 pm:

    Do you really believe the Speaker is surrounded by “yes” men?

    I don’t think so, and that was my point at 10:13am.

  53. - REE - Thursday, Jun 18, 15 @ 9:34 pm:

    Speaker Madigan is a highly intelligent and politically savvy man. He correctly understands that public opinion of him across the state is less important than what the people in his district thinks. Note: They love him and trust him to take care of the interests of working men and women. Until their sentiments change, Rauner is just wasting cash that I think should be donated to the State of Illinois to help close the gap in the budget.

Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.

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