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The insider’s insider retires

Monday, Dec 12, 2016

* Doug Wilson at the Quincy Herald-Whig

Mike McClain, a Quincy attorney who has been described as “the most trusted and respected lobbyist in Springfield,” has announced his retirement.

McClain, 69, said he told his wife, Cinda Awerkamp McClain, two years ago that he would retire at the end of 2015 as an anniversary present for her.

“Then we had the Exelon bill come up, and my friend Mike Madigan was facing some tough times, and so (the retirement) kind of got put on hold” for another year, McClain said, referring to a bill to extend subsidies to the utility to keep two nuclear power plants in the state operating.

He kept his retirement plan secret until it was revealed Friday by Rich Miller in the Illinois political newsletter and blog Capitol Fax. The announcement caught many by surprise.

“He was extremely successful and really, really will be missed,” said state Sen. John Sullivan, D-Rushville.

Former state Rep. Art Tenhouse, R-Liberty, said McClain worked behind the scenes and could “cross over the partisan divide” on almost every issue that came up in the Legislature.

“Most people don’t realize what an advocate he’s been for Western Illinois and how many things he’s gotten accomplished for this region,” Tenhouse said. […]

Wrote Miller on Friday:

“McClain has been a vitally important sounding board and strategist for the Speaker. He’s never been afraid to clash head-on with other members of Madigan’s inner circle when he’s believed they’ve given his guy the wrong advice. McClain also participated in Madigan’s conference calls every Sunday during campaign seasons, including this past one.

“The extent of his influence with Madigan probably can’t be overstated and will likely never be known. Neither man is the type to write tell-all autobiographies. Madigan doesn’t always take McClain’s advice, of course, but, like pretty much everyone who comes into contact with McClain, he most definitely always listens to him and respects him and, perhaps most importantly, trusts him.

“He’s also been a valued private conduit to members of Team Rauner, who may not love Madigan, but can always talk to McClain.”

On Friday, McClain said “a Springfield old-timer” told him early in his career as a lobbyist that with his connections, McClain could make a lot of money and retire in five years, or make a more modest living compared with other people and keep lobbying for a long time, while keeping his reputation intact.

“I chose the latter,” McClain said.

Your thoughts?

- Posted by Rich Miller        

  1. - Norseman - Monday, Dec 12, 16 @ 10:05 am:

    === Your thoughts? ===

    I’m getting old. I remember the first time I met then Rep. McClain. He wasn’t happy with an analysis I did on one of his bills which resulted in opposition to it. We worked on other things through the years and he was a friend. He is another legend who will be missed.

  2. - Fixer - Monday, Dec 12, 16 @ 10:05 am:

    Enjoy your retirement Mr. McClain. It’s well earned.

  3. - Give Me A Break - Monday, Dec 12, 16 @ 10:08 am:

    I would add to the title, The Pros Pro. I’ve worked with Mike on issues while working in the private and public sector. The most telling thing about Mike was he is an absolute “man of his word”. If he told you something you could take it to the bank.

    He always understood there were times he could not attain what his goal was, but never did he let that become personal or hold it against me.

    Going to miss him, a lot.

  4. - Annonin' - Monday, Dec 12, 16 @ 10:11 am:

    Wonder who BigBrain will talk to now. More immediately who will pick up McCalain share of the tab at the “Mo?

  5. - Sigh - Monday, Dec 12, 16 @ 10:16 am:

    Do you think we could talk him into coming back? Maybe as the democratic candidate for GOVERNOR?

  6. - Anonymous - Monday, Dec 12, 16 @ 10:24 am:

    A good man!

  7. - illinoised - Monday, Dec 12, 16 @ 10:31 am:

    Big loss. If only we had more folks like him.

  8. - Oswego Willy - Monday, Dec 12, 16 @ 10:33 am:

    Mike McClain is what’s best about institutional knowledge, wrapped with keen political insight, and tied together by a man who’s word was gold and his silent counsel was golden.

    My admiration and respect for Mike McClain goes beyond the easily seen or the afterwords realities. Mike McClain has been arguably the best real-time insider lobbyist in the state of Illinois’ recent history.

    Mike McClain set a very high bar, but his uniqueness will never be paralleled or duplicated. He is a man of his times, and shape the times of Illinois, her governing, and her politics too like no one will be able to do again.

    Best of luck, Mike McClain. I hope we get a chance to meet again. I’d like that very much.


  9. - A guy - Monday, Dec 12, 16 @ 10:48 am:

    The kindness and decency he showed to new members was legendary. He kept them from making embarrassing mistakes; quietly. Trust started on day one with him. He told them when he was working them and then worked them. Showed all of them respect. It’s no wonder he was so successful AND well liked. A rare combination any time, but especially now.

  10. - Keyser Soze - Monday, Dec 12, 16 @ 1:22 pm:

    What a great guy. I hope he visits Springfield often.

  11. - walker - Monday, Dec 12, 16 @ 1:47 pm:

    A man to be trusted.

  12. - L.A. - Monday, Dec 12, 16 @ 3:37 pm:

    I have a family member, formerly from Quincy, who has known Mike McClain longer than I’ve been alive and has more than once mentioned to me all of the lovely things stated about Mike McClain in this thread. I’m sure, if Mike and Cinda happen to drive through New Port Richey, FL while traveling the world, they could find someplace to stay for a couple days!!

  13. - Old Timer Dem - Monday, Dec 12, 16 @ 3:45 pm:

    The end of an era. Great guy! He was modest and easy to talk to.

  14. - quincy - Monday, Dec 12, 16 @ 7:14 pm:

    Best of mike you sure helped me and my family in hard times and good times. your a true friend to all. Dem # Rep.

Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.

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