But on the eve of the vote, as lawmakers closed out a two-day, lame-duck session and some hurried back to Chicago for President Barack Obama’s farewell address, even the lone Democrat who had once publicly suggested finding an alternative to Madigan had backed away from the idea.
“I think everybody who’s voting … has to be aware of the fact that there could be severe consequences if you don’t fall in line, and that’s just a fact of the way in which the General Assembly seems to be run,” said Rep. Scott Drury, a Highwood Democrat who said last month that he was “studying” options for challenging Madigan’s speakership candidacy.
By Tuesday, Drury said he was still considering voting for a candidate other than Madigan should one emerge, but he acknowledged that there was no coordinated effort to put forward an alternative.
Rep. Lou Lang, a Skokie Democrat and top Madigan deputy, dismissed the notion of a coup.
“We decide as a caucus who our candidate for speaker is going to be, behind closed doors,” Lang said. “And once we decide who our candidate for speaker is, the members of the caucus support the caucus decision.”
That’s true. Democrats are locked in. If Drury votes for someone else despite the caucus vote by acclamation, there will likely be ramifications.
* Meanwhile, the Quad City Times lashed out at Representative-elect Mike Halpin (D-Rock Island) today…
Chances are Mike Halpin will today support Mike Madigan. In so doing, he will delegitimize any previous claim of autonomy.
Make no mistake, even ceremonial opposition to Madigan could damage Halpin’s constituents. Suddenly, the 72nd District finds itself written out of budget lines. Suddenly, Halpin has no power within his caucus. Suddenly, Halpin is isolated and feckless.
But, at the very least, a protest vote for any Democrat willing to challenge Madigan would prove that Halpin meant what he said. Even a simple abstention, should no challenger rise, would send a powerful message.
Madigan won’t release his grip on Illinois voluntarily. Only a rank-and-file rebellion will do.
* ADDED: When Republicans Voted For Speaker Madigan
* Despite GOP pressure, Phelps likely to support Madigan for speaker