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.