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Will the anti-Madigan stuff work?

Friday, Oct 28, 2016

* The Tribune writes about all the anti-Speaker Madigan ads this year

While several other Democratic House candidates did not return calls seeking comment, a Madigan spokesman said the GOP is simply looking for a message to distract from controversial presidential nominee Donald Trump leading the ticket. Spokesman Steve Brown contended Republicans “will say anything” to shift the conversation.

“This has been done before, and it’s unclear what effect more spending will have,” Brown said. “They figured out, probably too late, that Rauner and Trump are two anchors around their candidates’ necks, and they are trying to unwrap those anchors.” […]

The Republican operative suggested the anti-Madigan strategy has negated any damage Trump has done. The GOP has labeled Madigan “the great equalizer,” saying he’s helped the GOP remain competitive during a presidential election year, which usually favors Democrats. […]

“When we started this, it was less about building unfavorables and more about letting people know who he is and how Springfield actually works,” said Pat Brady, former chairman of the Illinois Republican Party who launched a “Fire Madigan” campaign four years ago. “Now they are trying to take that and win seats with it, and I think they are going to have success.”

“It’s ‘Fire Madigan’ on steroids because they have the resources and the funding and a lot of very smart people running these campaigns. It’s a lot more well thought out and a stronger strategy than we’ve ever had,” Brady said. “We are in a state that has been dysfunctional for so long that they are looking for someone to blame, and the speaker is an easy target. If we can get across the point that a vote for an individual Democrat is a vote for Madigan, I think that’s very effective.”

Your predictions?

- Posted by Rich Miller        

  1. - How Ironic - Friday, Oct 28, 16 @ 10:38 am:

    Well, the upside is if the program doesn’t work they will ‘blame Madigan’ and his overwhelming power in the state as to the reason for it’s downfall.

    It’s foolproof program.

  2. - @MisterJayEm - Friday, Oct 28, 16 @ 10:38 am:

    “If we can get across the point that a vote for an individual Democrat is a vote for Madigan, I think that’s very effective.”

    The “if” in that sentence is doing some serious heavy-lifting.

    – MrJM

  3. - Roman - Friday, Oct 28, 16 @ 10:39 am:

    I think it’s gonna be a wash. Madigan will win a few and loose a few. Same thing in the Senate.

    A lot of money being spent to barely move the needle.

  4. - Amalia - Friday, Oct 28, 16 @ 10:39 am:


    he’s very good at letters into precincts, walking over the line on facts without making it seem wrong, deploying the workers from ward 13 to other places (anyone ever tempted to ask for a DL when someone comes to the door?). I’ll bet he has outfitted workers with Cubs hats to make them fit in.

  5. - The Captain - Friday, Oct 28, 16 @ 10:40 am:

    Trump isn’t winning Illinois and won’t come close.

    Kirk is hoping to be able to take the base for granted and woo moderates yet last night he probably closed the door on moderates so it’s not clear who’s motivated to go to the polls for Kirk.

    Rauner is also very unpopular.

    I get that Madigan is unpopular but I don’t think he’s so unpopular as to render the above three issues moot. If I were them I’d save whatever money is left for Fire Madigan 4.0

  6. - Not It - Friday, Oct 28, 16 @ 10:41 am:

    I’ve never thought this was a really good strategy, but I will say this year I’ve received a ton of questions from friends and family about the Speaker. Maybe it’ll work.

  7. - Arock - Friday, Oct 28, 16 @ 10:42 am:

    If helps keep Madigan from getting his super majority in the House it will be well worth the money.

  8. - silly - Friday, Oct 28, 16 @ 10:43 am:

    They’re spending a ton of money…stupidly. More proof that money - especially in the hands of greedy operatives doesn’t mean you are smart or that you win elections. Team Rauner’s poor primary showing is a case in point. As Rich pointed out, the only races Rauner and his peeps won were ones where the opponents had zero money. Hardly an accomplishment. Rauner needs to do some rethinking about this and use seasoned strategists not operative wannabes in the future. They have all been a failure for him.

  9. - Clark - Friday, Oct 28, 16 @ 10:43 am:

    If they could pick up a couple seats, then I think it’s effective. An example off the top of my head is Mel Thillens against Laura Murphy. Although there’s not much “because Madigan” against Murphy, I think Mel is just a great candidate overall.

    It’s a little interesting though, because I do not agree that Madigan is an “equalizer” against Trump. People are still going to vote party lines and/or vote what is comfortable to them. There’s too much mud in these elections to have the stamina to pay close enough attention.

  10. - My New Handle - Friday, Oct 28, 16 @ 10:44 am:

    “… the speaker is an easy target.”
    If tens of millions of dollars makes it an easy target, I have some incredibly easy home repairs that I have been putting off.
    And an easy target does not make it the correct target.

  11. - Ravenswood Right Winger - Friday, Oct 28, 16 @ 10:44 am:

    Arock is correct.

    if it picks off a couple/few seats to deny Madigan his veto-proof majority, it’s a win.

  12. - Been There - Friday, Oct 28, 16 @ 10:45 am:

    Presidential elections brings out people that don’t normally vote otherwise. I can definitely see those people that normally vote republican staying home because of Trump. But I don’t see any these people that normally vote for the democrat at the top of the ticket staying home because of Madigan.

  13. - anonymous - Friday, Oct 28, 16 @ 10:46 am:

    The ads are confusing and not effective at all. Rauner’s Madigan obsession has been his undoing. His operatives are greedy wannabes. If he wants to be effective, he should hire real strategists next time. They messed up the primary proxy wars too.

  14. - 47th Ward - Friday, Oct 28, 16 @ 10:47 am:

    It’s demonization without explanation. Over and over I hear how awful Mike Madigan is, but I never hear exactly why he’s bad.

    It’d be nice if the Republicans campaigned on Bruce Rauner’s Turnaround Agenda. Then, if they pick up some seats, they could point to the election as proof of public support. That would be impressive and effective.

    Also, how is the other Mike Madigan doing? Is he collateral damage or has he found a clever way to avoid the stink?

  15. - hisgirlfriday - Friday, Oct 28, 16 @ 10:48 am:

    If they are ever gonna flip the House I still think they need to up their game with a jingle that repurposes South Park’s “Blame Canada” to provide the tune for a song called “Blame Madigan”

  16. - Downstate GOP Faithless - Friday, Oct 28, 16 @ 10:49 am:

    First off, the Madigan stuff has never worked in the past, so if history is an indicator, then no. Do not attempt to make the money argument, because when push comes to shove the ticket matters. The top of the ticket is BRUTAL. This is speculation on my part, but for all these “new” voters Trump is apparently creating, I would bet he is keeping home or flipping more than 1 voter. I am not a smart guy, but that is math that never works out in your favor. It also seems all this Madigan stuff is like trying to get people to care about the environment. Certainly everyone loves saying they care about the environment, but on election day they are not running into their polling place to vote as such. Madigan is the same - sure he is easy to hate, but he only represents 1/118th of the voters, and they are overwhelmingly supportive of him.

  17. - From the 'Dale to HP - Friday, Oct 28, 16 @ 10:50 am:

    Even if it works, is picking up 4 seats really all that big of a deal? Now they have to work with Madigan to get anything done.

  18. - My New Handle - Friday, Oct 28, 16 @ 10:51 am:

    What’s the fascination with veto-proof supermajority? The House Dems may have a supermajority on paper, but the reality (Franks, Dunkin, etc.) has been far different. Suddenly, who will the HGOP blame if they have take responsibility of not being a superminority?

  19. - 47th Ward - Friday, Oct 28, 16 @ 10:52 am:

    Madigan lost his super majority the day Jack Franks announced he wasn’t running.

  20. - Anon. - Friday, Oct 28, 16 @ 10:53 am:

    No. Because most of the press are happy to enforce the “It’s Rauner’s fault” theme instead.

  21. - DS - Friday, Oct 28, 16 @ 10:55 am:

    All this money and Rauner’s gonna be in the same spot he was before the election. Go Madigan.

  22. - Rich Miller - Friday, Oct 28, 16 @ 10:56 am:

    ===Because most of the press are happy to enforce the “It’s Rauner’s fault” theme ===


    You must not read much.

  23. - A Jack - Friday, Oct 28, 16 @ 10:57 am:

    That strategy worked so well against Sam McCann, with Republican voters no less…..

  24. - Captain Illini - Friday, Oct 28, 16 @ 10:57 am:

    I’ve said this previously, but here goes…
    Illinois will be solid blue in the national race, but would be still even if the GOP had a “great” candidate - due to the utter failure of its governor and his ill-conceived strategy of incompetence in governing. I truly believe the IL-Dems will come out slightly ahead even with all of the opposition funding because Rauner refuses to understand his own state, electorate, and damage he’s already done.

  25. - Bogey Golfer - Friday, Oct 28, 16 @ 10:58 am:

    =Even if it works, is picking up 4 seats really all that big of a deal? Now they have to work with Madigan to get anything done.=
    It sends out a message he is susceptible. Walk before you run.

  26. - Politix - Friday, Oct 28, 16 @ 10:59 am:

    Not gonna work. I think it helped in the beginning of Rauner’s tenure to Blame Madigan for everything, but the air was let out of that narrative months ago when people started to see Rauner for what he is. He has his own share of detractors now, as illustrated by his approval ratings. Agree with above commenter - it’s a wash.

  27. - Anonymous - Friday, Oct 28, 16 @ 11:02 am:

    This election cycle is truly interesting. Sure, you have Trump at the top of the ticket, but that is not necessarily going to hurt in some areas of the state. Where is it going to kill Republicans is the suburbs. I don’t think the Republicans can make any inroads in the suburbs and they will be lucky to break even and not lose any seats during this year.

    Downstate is where things get really interesting. Trump isn’t necessarily the drag on the ticket, but Republican’s association with Rauner will sting a little bit. Rauner truly underestimated downstate’s union ties and that could be the downfall for several Republican candidates. On the other hand, Rauner isn’t on the ballot this time, and because Trump isn’t as big of a drag downstate, the Madigan message may work better.

    We will have to wait til the 8th to find out what happens.

  28. - MOON - Friday, Oct 28, 16 @ 11:02 am:

    After the election Madigan will still have a comfortable majority but not a super majority.

    Rauner is wasting his money.

  29. - Team Sleep - Friday, Oct 28, 16 @ 11:02 am:

    I’ve said my piece before, but I’ll note again that it will work in some districts and not in others. I don’t think the HRO will come anywhere close to retaking the House but several seats in a year like this would be nice. We didn’t do horribly in 2008 but did poorly in 2012, so who knows. Enough of the ads and mailers started early enough that they may have an impact.

    47th - the “Other Mike Madigan” isn’t doing so well. He’s getting pretty much no support from anyone higher up. It’s a shame. He’s a good recruit for the district. Oh well.

  30. - Anonymous - Friday, Oct 28, 16 @ 11:03 am:

    I suspect both the anti-Rauner and anti-Madigan down-ballot efforts are preaching to the converted in this presidential year.

    The unconverted are tuned into the Trump/Clinton show. I don’t think any amount of paid media can cut through the dominating 24/7 coverage of that one.

    2018 will be a different story for a true Rauner/Madigan proxy war.

  31. - benniefly2 - Friday, Oct 28, 16 @ 11:05 am:

    The state GOP won’t get a majority before the redistricting. They will probably pick up a few seats this cycle, but I have to believe that it might hurt them in the end. As mentioned above by My New Handle, once the perceived super majority is gone, the “Madigan is free to pass it on his own” stuff won’t fly anymore.

  32. - Team Sleep - Friday, Oct 28, 16 @ 11:06 am:

    I will say this - and Rich can back me up if he so chooses - but I seem to remember than in late 2014 a lot of commenters were convinced Pat Quinn would eke out a victory. So anything is possible.

  33. - kitty - Friday, Oct 28, 16 @ 11:09 am:

    Ravenswood Right Winger, If Madigan loses a veto proof majority in the house, it takes away a talking point from Rauner albeit a misleading one as no “real” veto proof majority has existed for a long time.

  34. - Anonymous - Friday, Oct 28, 16 @ 11:10 am:

    A lot of people here seem to think that the GOP will pick up a few seats. Any thoughts on the most likely seats to change hands?

  35. - DuPage Bard - Friday, Oct 28, 16 @ 11:10 am:

    Interesting to think both sides think the other folks negatives are better so thereby ending the down ticket candidates. No one ever says “Well our message of fixing things and working together will put us over the top with voters because people really like to watch positive ads.”

  36. - Foie Gras - Friday, Oct 28, 16 @ 11:12 am:

    Jack Franks, Cloonen, Sam Yingling

  37. - Scamp640 - Friday, Oct 28, 16 @ 11:12 am:

    I get that Rauner is trying to play the long game. He wants to pick up a couple of seats each election cycle to ultimately flip the state. But using Madigan as the bogeyman on which to blame all of Illinois’ woes will only work to the extent that Rauner and the Republicans are seen as the reasonable alternative. But the longer Rauner is in office, and the longer the state goes without a real budget, I think the more likely Illinois voters will see the true Rauner. The point is that Rauner does not have enough time between now and 2018 to make the case that Democrats and Madigan are evil and Rauner and the Republicans will rescue Illinois. Without a real budget, the Republicans will not be able to avoid getting blamed for the stalemate and the collateral (or intentional) damage that causes. And the longer the stalemate persists, the more Rauner will need to shoulder the blame. The bottom line for me is that the anti-Madigan stuff works in the short term to sustain the stalemate, but the longer Rauner uses this strategy, the more he opens himself to the same critique being leveled at Madigan. We’re just going to get more partial budgets, furloughs, layoffs, and Rauner will not get to flip the state. He just comes off as either a mean-spirited or failed governor. Nice legacy.

  38. - A guy - Friday, Oct 28, 16 @ 11:14 am:

    It’s working. Somewhat in some places. Extremely effective in others. It’s working well enough to put even more equity into it in the next cycle. It’s a very disruptive message. The speaker is seen as a villain in a lot of places.

  39. - Team Sleep - Friday, Oct 28, 16 @ 11:20 am:

    11:10 -

    I think Steve Reick, Rob Drobinski, Tony McCombie, Jerry Long and Dave Severin will win. Brandi McGuire is a maybe; she is certainly working the district. Avery Bourne is in trouble.

    I will admit that I am not as familiar with suburban races outside of Reick-Bartman and Yingling-Drobinski so that may either be fertile ground or a nuclear minefield.

    The benchmark is six, which was attained in 2010. I wonder if Durkin and friends can get anywhere close to that. Who knows.

  40. - Anonymouth - Friday, Oct 28, 16 @ 11:23 am:

    === Jack Franks, Cloonen, Sam Yingling ===

    Franks’ seat will turn, but I think Yingling and Cloonen are gonna win.

  41. - Anonymous - Friday, Oct 28, 16 @ 11:24 am:

    Arock and Ravenswood…how pathetic is the Illinois republicans, when you classify a “win” as keeping the Democrats from a supermajority…LOL

  42. - walker - Friday, Oct 28, 16 @ 11:26 am:

    Just encountered a barrage of seven Madigan-plus-Dem attack ads in a row.

    The TV stations should be charging Wrigleyville tavern prices this week.

  43. - Anonymous - Friday, Oct 28, 16 @ 11:28 am:

    Printing companies, USPS and TV stations win (bigly). Everything else remains the same.

  44. - NoGifts - Friday, Oct 28, 16 @ 11:28 am:

    I don’t know about advertising. I don’t think we believe any of it anymore, and just stick with whether we tend more to the democrat or republican perspective and vote by party. I’d have a very hard time voting if they didn’t include party on the ballot!

  45. - Honeybear - Friday, Oct 28, 16 @ 11:30 am:

    Team Sleep- what do your folks think about the Kay race? I think it’s close but I’m to involved. Your honest thoughts?

  46. - Annonin' - Friday, Oct 28, 16 @ 11:34 am:

    Anti-Rauner media is a hoot. This a group that barely explained his role in the subprime bank failure in GA, the shoddy nursing home, Stu Levine — still waiting for the 1st hint that anyone has tried to contact Stu.
    But on your point, one of the commenters notes it is really a 3 step samba. First use sketchy facts to inform folks to know and hate Madigan. Then convince those folks to hate their state representative who they know. Finally after hating convince the voters to elect some magoo who will vote for stuff that you either don’t like or will not happened until the next decade.
    If they have a little luck Pat Brady has been able to sell some of the Fire Madigan c* he has been storin’

  47. - Deft Wing - Friday, Oct 28, 16 @ 11:39 am:

    It should work because it’s not untrue. Madigan has inordinate power which he uses to his political and personal advantage and to the disadvantage of the State.

    If the Anti-Madigan stuff doesn’t work, smart people will continue to leave Illinois … but their plans will accelerate.

  48. - DS - Friday, Oct 28, 16 @ 11:41 am:

    NoGifts, I’d love to see people’s reactions if parties were not on the ballot. Would be great for America IMO

  49. - walker - Friday, Oct 28, 16 @ 11:43 am:

    Will they work?

    Yes, in driving/keeping Madigan’s negatives high.

    No, in deflecting from Rauner’s negatives.

    Maybe, in flipping one or two seats, best case.

    Another two years of $millions spent anti-Madigan, has to have some negative impact, but Madigan has shown he can take the arrows…until retirement.

  50. - just saying... - Friday, Oct 28, 16 @ 12:01 pm:

    Same as when the billionaire was first elected. Net gain of 2 seats in House. $100’s million of dollars spent to be where we started. Except more bad will and GOP will be forced to raise taxes. Horrible waste of time and resources to feed Rauners ego at the expense of tax payers.

  51. - stateandlake - Friday, Oct 28, 16 @ 12:09 pm:

    47th @1052a - very much agree. I found it interesting that in the IL house and Senate races in my district, the republican candidates passed on the Tribune’s questionnaire item on what kind of job Rainer was doing. Only the D House candidate answered the question. As I said to one canvasser, if you want the D to wear the collar for Madigan, your candidate has to wear the collar for Rauner’s record and the TA.

  52. - Come on man! - Friday, Oct 28, 16 @ 12:10 pm:

    One of my favorite political movies is Milk.

    A scene that keeps me going each election cycle is a scene between Harvey Milk and Art Agnos when Milk ran for State House. They have a raucous debate where Milk blames party elites and bosses and the whole through the bums out message. Following the debate scene Milk runs out of the hall and grabs Agnos by the arm, and they have an exchange, but Agnos follows with the final line “”you’re a downer … You talk about how you’re gonna throw the bums out, but how are you gonna fix things—other than beat me? You shouldn’t leave your audience on a down.”

    The GOP has not given a plan of what they are going to do once they catch the car.

  53. - Great Caesar's Ghost! - Friday, Oct 28, 16 @ 12:10 pm:

    Team Sleep

    –The benchmark is six, which was attained in 2010. I wonder if Durkin and friends can get anywhere close to that. –

    Different maps in 2010. Will be a lot tougher this year. It could be that Madigan is playing Rope-A-Dope with Rauner’s pocketbook.

  54. - stateandlake - Friday, Oct 28, 16 @ 12:10 pm:

    Sorry, *Rauner. Blasted autocorrect

  55. - downstate commissioner - Friday, Oct 28, 16 @ 12:16 pm:

    No. I don’t vote in thatg district, but if I could, Sara Jiminez would be OUT….

  56. - Mokenavince - Friday, Oct 28, 16 @ 12:20 pm:

    If they make Madigan even slightly uncomfortable there worth it. When your as heartless and greedy as this guy I doubt if he cares. I just feel bad that our great state has be fractured by him.

  57. - Responsa - Friday, Oct 28, 16 @ 12:21 pm:

    I honestly have no idea whether the strategy will “work” or not. I do know that the people who regularly comment here are political geeks and/or advocates who look at life through a highly politicized lens and therefore can’t be considered average voters of the sort who mostly only tune into politics when they are forced to by election dates.

    I also do know that there is a great deal of frustration in IL that goes back way further than Gov. Rauner and Gov. Quinn. This effort to minimize Mike Madigan’s seeming eternal power through defeating other individual candidates may be too complex for some voters to grasp. But many of the ads supporting this effort have been very very good in certain key districts.

  58. - Sense of a Goose - Friday, Oct 28, 16 @ 12:22 pm:

    The ‘veto proof majority’ or ’super majority’ tag line sounds like something evil. Except that it never was either veto proof or a super majority when it came to votes. Might make a great slogan for the next election but it’s not going to get 60-30 as has been pointed out numerous times. What are they going to do after the votes are cast? No one has an answer to that question.

  59. - jon r - Friday, Oct 28, 16 @ 12:25 pm:

    Realistically, won’t it take more than two election cycles to change the the face of the house and senate? At some point won’t the governor have to “own” the last 2-4 years?

  60. - Shemp - Friday, Oct 28, 16 @ 12:34 pm:

    I predict the same ole, same ole.

    We’ll continue voting in people who vote for policies that have unintended consequences then later wonder how we let it happen.

  61. - jon r - Friday, Oct 28, 16 @ 1:01 pm:

    Deft Wing @ 11:39 AM , === smart people will continue to leave ILLINOIS… ==== If they are rich, they probably have a house in Florida already. Unemployed ,maybe. But i work with hundreds, maybe thousands of people every day that drive from INDIANA and WISCONSIN to O’HARE for good paying jobs they cant find near where they live.

  62. - Seats - Friday, Oct 28, 16 @ 2:16 pm:

    Team Sleep- curious on your level of confidence in the Jerry Long prediction? Maybe i’m just seeing what I want to see but Skoog seems to be winning the “battle of yard signs” by a wide margin from my eyes.

  63. - Oswego Willy - Friday, Oct 28, 16 @ 2:19 pm:

    ===Madigan his veto-proof majority, it’s a win.===

    Madigan has never had a veto-proof majority.

    It’s becoming pathetic that strawman wins are considered wins.

    Here’s “where I am”…

    My number is 66, for an over/under on effectiveness. Five seats, given Franks is a tip in, and Cloonen might have been on fumes this whole last term, so 3 is really good after that.

    Madigan stays at a finally honest “68″ (Dunkin gone, Franks gone, Drury still milling about) and Madigan… what if Madigan gets Mendozatoo, then the spin begins in the inside baseball crowd.

    What did “Fire Madigan” actually do?

    Plus, Rauner himself runs statewide in 2018.

    Oh boy…

  64. - Mal - Friday, Oct 28, 16 @ 2:27 pm:

    I believe all this money wont help Rauner pick up too many seats. I think Madigan will still have at least 70 seats.

  65. - Last Bull Moose - Friday, Oct 28, 16 @ 3:33 pm:

    The ads are poisoning the well for the required tax increase. I do not see how Madigan supports one.

    How much longer can the State spend more than it takes in? Which State functions does it jettison and how?

  66. - amalia - Friday, Oct 28, 16 @ 3:46 pm:

    and how many races have a letter sent out by Lisa?

  67. - Postbot 6000 - Friday, Oct 28, 16 @ 4:25 pm:

    “- MOON - Friday, Oct 28, 16 @ 11:02 am:

    After the election Madigan will still have a comfortable majority but not a super majority.

    Rauner is wasting his money.”

    Try to think 3 moves ahead. Maybe he’s wasting his money and maybe not. I imagine Nov. 8, 2016 is not the final goal.

Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.

* Reader comments closed until Tuesday
* *** UPDATED x1 *** Tribune asked 16 mayoral candidates to release tax returns, 6 complied
* A rough idea of what they're looking at
* Question of the day: Golden Horseshoe Awards
* Rauner was wrong about "record levels" of unionization
* SUBSCRIBERS ONLY: Stava-Murray updates
* Pritzker's inauguration ball tix will benefit Cabrini Green Legal Aid Clinic and Illinois Fairgrounds Foundation
* Rauner claims he's been too busy to reflect on his term
* Pritzker's day in DC
* *** UPDATED x3 - Morrison wants emergency meeting of ILGOP - McConnaughay explains - Schneider responds *** Rauner says he tried to drop out of race after primary
* Feds re-raid Ald. Burke's office
* Yesterday's stories

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