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Why did Lisa Madigan retire?

Wednesday, Sep 20, 2017

* Zorn on Lisa Madigan’s retirement

Maybe, however — and I know how crazy this sounds but stay with me — maybe she’s not sufficiently consumed with ambition to devote the rest of her life to the pursuit of political advancement.

Maybe most of us were wrong in 2002, when she first ran for Illinois attorney general, to assume that she was as obsessed with yanking the levers of power as her father, veteran Democratic House Speaker Michael Madigan, and to assume that, like so many who occupy lower constitutional offices, she would reach for the next rung of the ladder as soon as she could.

Maybe the idea of subjecting herself to the brutal indignities of running for Illinois governor or mayor of Chicago, then becoming ringmaster of the circus that is Illinois or Chicago doesn’t appeal to her.

Maybe Friday’s announcement that she’ll step down as attorney general at the end of her current term in early 2019 was simply a move toward reinvention. […]

Maybe the reason she’s passed on many opportunities to seek advancement — including a run for governor in 2014 that looked certain until she bowed out — and now plans to leave politics, is that, at heart, she’s more of a normal person than we, and perhaps she, once thought.

There are undoubtedly lots of reasons. But she’s never been the cartoon caricature that so many have tried to make her out to be.

- Posted by Rich Miller        

30 Comments
  1. - My New Handle - Wednesday, Sep 20, 17 @ 10:38 am:

    Plus she has her 20 years in for full benefits. I am not dissing her for that, but the bennies are very good and time with family under those circumstances is certainly what I would have done.


  2. - it'smyopinion - Wednesday, Sep 20, 17 @ 10:38 am:

    Exactly this, I’ve always thought of Lisa Madigan as an intelligent, logical woman and mother making decisions for herself and her family and not a robot controlled by her father. To me the caricature of her being controlled or stymied by the Speaker has always been ridiculous. And any suggestion of Madigan not being a family man or not looking out for the best interest of his children is equally as ridiculous.


  3. - phocion - Wednesday, Sep 20, 17 @ 10:43 am:

    In this, I agree with Zorn.


  4. - Yellow Dog Democrat - Wednesday, Sep 20, 17 @ 10:44 am:

    I spent five hours with Senator Madigan back in 2001. We didn’t talk about politics at all. Her family had been stranded in Ireland on Sept. 11 and just gotten back. She had just started dating a cute guy she had met in a coffee shop who would later become her husband. But mostly she wanted to know about me.

    Lisa Madigan is so normal it’s almost disturbing.

    But here’s the thing: most public officials are pretty normal folks, if you give them a chance to be.


  5. - Grand Avenue - Wednesday, Sep 20, 17 @ 10:46 am:

    Although I believe she will not be able to tap into the pension & benefits until she turns 55.


  6. - Ginhouse Tommy - Wednesday, Sep 20, 17 @ 10:47 am:

    It seems to me that Lisa Madigan is very much her own person. She is not a publicity hound that always has to be in front of the cameras and has to be in the headlines. Seems like she just does her job the way it is supposed to be done. I think she looks like Demi Moore, not that it means anything.


  7. - Curl of the Burl - Wednesday, Sep 20, 17 @ 10:52 am:

    YDD - that is so true. I have spent so much time trying to explain that to family & friends but people just do not want to believe that elected officials are just like us.


  8. - Try-4-Truth - Wednesday, Sep 20, 17 @ 10:53 am:

    ===== “Maybe, however — and I know how crazy this sounds but stay with me — maybe she’s not sufficiently consumed with ambition to devote the rest of her life to the pursuit of political advancement.” =====

    As a former employee of the Illinois Attorney General’s Office, this is, without question, the absolute truth.


  9. - hold on - Wednesday, Sep 20, 17 @ 10:54 am:

    She will go to private sector, make so much money her state pension will barely matter, and get to choose how much to work and what clients to work for. She’s Jim Thompson.


  10. - 47th Ward - Wednesday, Sep 20, 17 @ 10:57 am:

    ===Lisa Madigan is so normal it’s almost disturbing.===

    Yep. Whatever her reason(s), she was a very good Attorney General for the state and I wish her well.

    On the plus side, hopefully she’ll go to bat now for all of the Assistant AGs and others on staff who’ve gone a long time without raises and promotions. There are some good, talented attorneys who’ve been working for a pittance for many years and they deserve a raise. Now that there won’t be a political penalty, I hope she does everything she can to reward her team.

    Doing so will also benefit whoever is elected to replace her, so consider that before criticizing me for suggesting her staff deserve more of your money. They do, and if you want good people to do this work, you have to pay them.


  11. - GA Watcher - Wednesday, Sep 20, 17 @ 11:01 am:

    Her daughters are nearing high school age if I’m not mistaken. If they go the private school route for high school and college as their mother has, tuitions will be much more affordable on a private sector vs a public sector salary.


  12. - Michelle Flaherty - Wednesday, Sep 20, 17 @ 11:05 am:

    Pretty sure her entire decision making process was hinged on how Zorn would interpret it.


  13. - JB13 - Wednesday, Sep 20, 17 @ 11:20 am:

    Contra to what so many who eat, sleep and breathe politics believe, I submit no one is the cartoon caricature their supporters and opponents make them out to be.


  14. - Anonymous - Wednesday, Sep 20, 17 @ 11:36 am:

    Certainly Mike Madigan’s wife is more normal than he is.


  15. - Levois J - Wednesday, Sep 20, 17 @ 11:37 am:

    This decision surprised me, but I never had the idea that she was controlled by her father. Now that the Madigan name has become not such a hot brand, it’s a good thing she didn’t run for governor or she’s leaving the office of Attorney General. As for a future run, I could never count her out.


  16. - wordslinger - Wednesday, Sep 20, 17 @ 11:50 am:

    Is there any reason not to take at face value the reasons Lisa Madigan gave Rich last week? They seemed perfectly reasonable to me.

    Some people have fooled themselves into thinking that Mike Madigan is some Super-Machiavelli with mystical powers to see into and shape the future.

    The fact is, he can usually produce a solid 60+ votes in the House. That makes him very influential, not supernatural.


  17. - JS Mill - Wednesday, Sep 20, 17 @ 12:39 pm:

    Is there any reason not to take at face value the reasons Lisa Madigan gave Rich last week? They seemed perfectly reasonable to me.

    Some people have fooled themselves into thinking that Mike Madigan is some Super-Machiavelli with mystical powers to see into and shape the future.

    The fact is, he can usually produce a solid 60+ votes in the House. That makes him very influential, not supernatural.=

    Man that is spot on.

    If anything the past two years have really served to
    prove your point on both MJM an Lisa Madigan.

    The dynamic between them is fascinating to me because it is so unclear. She has not been her father’s toadie. I think she does a fine job, not perfect but good. I have voted for her.

    MJM is a different story, not a fan at all. I would like to see change there.

    But all of the hyperbole aside, Lisa Madigan has by all evidence been her own person and I respect that.


  18. - Oswego Willy - Wednesday, Sep 20, 17 @ 12:40 pm:

    The human element could just be… enough is enough.

    Politics like other things in life become stale and tiring.

    You should find happiness, sometimes by moving up, other times by moving over or moving on.


  19. - ADL Staff - Wednesday, Sep 20, 17 @ 12:43 pm:

    There are always several layers to the Madigans. I wouldn’t be surprised if she is laying the groundwork for a gubernatorial bid in 8 years when her father retires.


  20. - Loop Lady - Wednesday, Sep 20, 17 @ 12:59 pm:

    I agree that she was never controlled by her father, yet her position as AG certainly afforded him a lot of political cover…


  21. - Newsclown - Wednesday, Sep 20, 17 @ 1:06 pm:

    She could spend time with her family, which is usually just code for “something to do besides the work”. In her case, it could be a real thing, and bully for her if it is. I’ve been to her home, and you can tell that the theme around the house revolves around two things: striving for excellence, and a commitment to the public good, in whatever capacity is called for. She could run an NGO, no sweat.

    She’d make an excellent Governor, and that time may yet come, down the road. She’d also be a good replacement for Durbin, when he retires.

    I admire that she keeps her own time-table, no matter what everybody else says.


  22. - titan - Wednesday, Sep 20, 17 @ 1:36 pm:

    I’ve dealt with her personally on a couple of things, and with her (excellent) staff on a lot of things.

    She’s run a good office, and she seems like she’s very well adjusted as a person too.


  23. - Big foot - Wednesday, Sep 20, 17 @ 1:43 pm:

    U.S Senate…Dick’s replacement… She did her understudy as Attorney General …commendable.


  24. - Rich Miller - Wednesday, Sep 20, 17 @ 1:53 pm:

    Big foot, you sound awful confident about that, stress on the word awful.

    She already passed up one US Senate bid. They’d have cleared the field for her. Obama himself tried to talk her into it. She passed. She also didn’t love the Illinois Senate. Could she change her mind? Of course. Past isn’t always prologue, but you can still try to learn from it.


  25. - Anonymous - Wednesday, Sep 20, 17 @ 2:06 pm:

    I think Lisa will take Durbin’s seat in 2020 and then try to position herself to be the first female President. She would be a great candidate.


  26. - Wondering - Wednesday, Sep 20, 17 @ 2:22 pm:

    Been a solid A.G. What is not to like? She goes for higher office, I will support that. Out and into private life? Our loss, her gain.


  27. - Anonymous - Wednesday, Sep 20, 17 @ 2:27 pm:

    I’m with “OW” there is a time.


  28. - Last Bull Moose - Wednesday, Sep 20, 17 @ 4:55 pm:

    Some time in the private sector could give some breadth to her skills. She will be a better manager when she learns other tools and styles.


  29. - Anonymous - Wednesday, Sep 20, 17 @ 6:36 pm:

    A very good AG compared to who else? AG Edward Brundage tried to use the office to take down a corrupt Governor Len Small. Lisa did exactly what?


  30. - Retired Educator - Thursday, Sep 21, 17 @ 5:53 am:

    Anonymous–She did the job, what else would you have her do? There is something to be said sor just doing the job.


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