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Blair Hull explains his support for Speaker Madigan’s primary opponent

Monday, Feb 29, 2016

* My weekly syndicated newspaper column

A name from the past has been leading the charge for Jason Gonzales’ Democratic primary campaign against Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan.

Blair Hull, the hugely wealthy but unsuccessful 2004 Democratic candidate for US Senate, directly accounts for $100,000 of the $300,000 which the Illinois United for Change PAC has raised since late January (and maybe double that, because it’s unclear who controls a company responsible for another $100K). The independent expenditure committee has so far reported spending money only on Gonzales.

I was able to reach Hull through an intermediary to ask him why he decided to get involved against his fellow Democrat Madigan in the primary. He would only communicate by e-mail, and didn’t respond to a follow-up question.

Hull said he believes Gonzales gives the state “an opportunity for a fresh start,” and predicted his candidate, an entrepreneur who received an MBA from MIT, would be a “true statesmen” in the General Assembly.

Speaker Madigan, Hull said, “is not a team player.” Madigan “does not cooperate well with others,” and gave as an example Madigan’s lone refusal out of all 50 state party chairmen to work with the national party on sharing voter information. Madigan, Hull said, “wanted to control the voter file because he wanted to control who was elected in the state of Illinois.” He said his view was “amplified” when he discovered that Madigan opposed same day voter registration (although that is now state law with Madigan’s backing).

“This lack of cooperation and team work has led to the dismal condition of our state today,” Hull claimed. “I believe the state of Illinois and the legislature would be improved significantly without Michael Madigan.”

And with that, he politely signed off, saying he hoped what he said was helpful and looked forward to “speaking with you after March 16th.” So, that’s that until after the March 15th primary, I suppose.

So far, Illinois United for Change has sent three mailers which have all said positive stuff about Gonzales. It’s widely expected that the group will go negative on Madigan soon, perhaps even by the time you read this.

Is it possible that Madigan could actually lose? Well, the Speaker appears to be working his district like that very thing could happen, which means he’s leaving no stone unturned. His own polling reportedly shows him ahead by a 6-1 margin, but everybody is operating under the assumption that respondents may not be telling the truth.

Madigan has unleashed the hounds on Gonzales, dredging up some long ago arrests and a felony conviction and even finding a letter from Cook County State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez that strongly argued against a gubernatorial pardon, which Gonzales eventually received. Gonzales’ campaign originally claimed Madigan had “lied” and the Alvarez quote was “faked,” but relented when I showed them the actual letter.

Four years ago, Madigan was challenged by another Latino candidate who was trumpeted by some in the media as a possible winner because his district is dominated by Latino-Americans. Madigan ended up winning that race by a huge margin. Gonzales is different, though, because the Latino candidate has far more money than anybody has ever had against Madigan.

Madigan received 9,860 votes in his contested 2012 Democratic primary out of 13,021 votes cast. His own 13th Ward accounted for 6,464 of those Madigan votes, out of 7,870 cast.

Madigan’s massive political organization backed Mayor Rahm Emanuel last year, and in the runoff Emanuel received 56 percent in Madigan’s 13th Ward to Cook County Commissioner Chuy Garcia’s 44 percent, which clearly shows that the ward’s Latino voters can be convinced to vote for a white incumbent against a credible Latino opponent. And the liberal Garcia is now supporting Madigan, which should help.

Much of Gonzales’ money is coming from folks who backed Gov. Bruce Rauner’s campaign, including Hull, who told the Sun-Times in 2014 that he contributed to Rauner because “I admire wealthy people who want to serve… People who are wealthy can really do what they believe, they can push for the right reforms.”

Gov. Rauner is horribly unpopular in Chicago and among suburban Democrats, so it’s difficult to see how Gonzales can pull this off if Madigan continues the attack by tying Gonzales to the Republican governor. It’s not a huge stretch to suggest, for some Democrats, that’s almost as bad as a felony conviction – and maybe worse in some households.

I suppose stranger things have happened, though, which is what is pushing Madigan so hard.

- Posted by Rich Miller        

18 Comments
  1. - Oswego Willy - Monday, Feb 29, 16 @ 9:17 am:

    So…

    Desperate rich guy, wanting to be relevant in Illinois politics, …with horrendous divorce… who so badly wanted to be called “Senator”… is so bitter… that he bankrolls a candidate to take out frustrations… on the “One” person… responsible… for his implosion?

    Got it.

    “Man, that Blair Hull. He plays for keeps and at all costs.” - Fake Bruce Rauner.


  2. - LizPhairTax - Monday, Feb 29, 16 @ 9:23 am:

    What a punch in the shin! Game over, MJM.


  3. - Hedley Lamarr - Monday, Feb 29, 16 @ 9:26 am:

    Blair Hull - Another person disproving the theory that rich = smart.


  4. - wordslinger - Monday, Feb 29, 16 @ 9:35 am:

    All smart incumbents run scared. Elections are zero-sum contests. You don’t get extra points for not trying hard.


  5. - Henry Francis - Monday, Feb 29, 16 @ 9:57 am:

    Not sure the goal here is to necessarily beat MJM. The more money the Guv and his people dump into his race, the more MJM will have to, and that will be less he can spend elsewhere.

    It’s kind of like how St. Ronnie ratcheted up the arms race with the Evil Empire to get them to run out of cash and eventually fall apart.


  6. - VanillaMan - Monday, Feb 29, 16 @ 10:01 am:

    I don’t have a problem with Hull bankrolling Gonzales. I have a problem with a governor bankrolling the opponent to a speaker of the house.

    Governors have to work with state leaders and bankrolling their opponent’s campaign isn’t being a good governor.

    A speaker won’t work with a governor who tries to publically run against him. Since a governor is responsible for finding solutions within state government, any governor doing what this one is, isn’t interested in governing, or solutions.


  7. - lake county democrat - Monday, Feb 29, 16 @ 10:09 am:

    Not that I have any love lost for the Speaker, but I can’t recall Blair Hull being involved with anything progressive since his ego race. Maybe I just missed it.

    I’m far more curious as to why the Sun-Times endorsed Zopp over the weekend. William Daley pulling strings?


  8. - Anonymous - Monday, Feb 29, 16 @ 10:23 am:

    Bless Blair Hull for saying what so many Illinoisans are thinking.


  9. - The Captain - Monday, Feb 29, 16 @ 10:40 am:

    Added another $100,000 this morning, they’re pretty flush but sitting on more than they’re spending so far. I’m eager to see if they go to TV next, they can now afford to.


  10. - anon - Monday, Feb 29, 16 @ 10:49 am:

    === I admire wealthy people who want to serve. ===

    Hull must be a big fan of The Donald then.


  11. - Robert the Bruce - Monday, Feb 29, 16 @ 11:44 am:

    I wonder how Gonzales will spend the cash.

    “Yeah, but he’s OUR corrupt guy!” might be a common reaction to any mailer hit on Madigan.


  12. - @MisterJayEm - Monday, Feb 29, 16 @ 12:14 pm:

    Speaker Madigan, Hull said, “is not a team player.” Madigan “does not cooperate well with others,” and gave as an example Madigan’s lone refusal out of all 50 state party chairmen to work with the national party on sharing voter information. Madigan, Hull said, “wanted to control the voter file because he wanted to control who was elected in the state of Illinois.”

    For nearly a decade, Madigan allowed the DNC’s voter file for Illinois to be controlled by the Illinois Democratic County Chairmen’s Association. Anyone who ran a semi-serious Democratic campaign during that time knows you’d send your checks to the ILDCCA to get access to the DNC’s data, not to Madigan’s Democratic Party of Illinois.

    I don’t mean to suggest that Madigan isn’t a control freak — he obviously is — I’m merely suggesting that Blair Hull has no idea what he’s talking about.

    – MrJM


  13. - Formerly Known As... - Monday, Feb 29, 16 @ 12:50 pm:

    ==Blair Hull ==

    #throwbacktuesday on a Monday?


  14. - Joe Bidenopolous - Monday, Feb 29, 16 @ 1:10 pm:

    So….Gonzo will repudiate support from an alleged wife beater, right? Right?

    Seems to me that the Rauner folks have a problem with women and appreciate the men who beat them. I find that….interesting.


  15. - Bob Blade - Monday, Feb 29, 16 @ 1:38 pm:

    Time for Hull to take the Senior Citizens Bus back to Canada for a refund on his meds.


  16. - cgo75 - Monday, Feb 29, 16 @ 1:40 pm:

    Seems like an opportune time for the Speaker to reconnect with the citizens and share his passion for the state with them. Everyone would benefit from hearing his vision.


  17. - Mama - Monday, Feb 29, 16 @ 3:25 pm:

    “This lack of cooperation and team work has led to the dismal condition of our state today,” Hull claimed.”

    This remark makes Hull sound like she is in Rauner’s camp.


  18. - Mama - Monday, Feb 29, 16 @ 3:30 pm:

    After Rauner planted a candidate & money to throw the ‘Speaker of the House’ out of office, a budget deal for Fiscal Year 2017 isn’t looking good either.


Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.


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