Capitol - Your Illinois News Radar » *** UPDATED x1 - Rauner: “I am not in charge” *** Has Madigan taken up residence in Rauner’s head?
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*** UPDATED x1 - Rauner: “I am not in charge” *** Has Madigan taken up residence in Rauner’s head?

Monday, Dec 4, 2017

* My Crain’s Chicago Business column

Without a doubt, House Speaker Michael Madigan is not an easy person to work with if you happen to be the governor.

Former Gov. Jim Edgar jokingly blamed Madigan for the heart attack he suffered while in office. Former Gov. Pat Quinn often had a devil of a time trying to figure out how to work with Madigan, which may have contributed to his 2014 defeat.

Madigan cooperates when it’s in his interests to do so and doesn’t when it’s not. Figuring out what his interests are or what’s against his interests on any given proposal is often extremely complicated because the man almost never just comes right out and says: “Give me this and I’ll give you that.”

And if you’re not careful, he can take up residence inside your head.

If you have the stomach for it, go back and listen to some of the FBI surveillance audio of former Gov. Rod Blagojevich. It’s Madigan this and Madigan that. Madigan, Madigan, Madigan ruined everything he was trying to do in office. Blagojevich was thoroughly obsessed with the House speaker.

At one point, Blagojevich even publicly called out Madigan, chairman of the Democratic Party of Illinois, for being a “Republican.”

By the end, it was clear that there was something really wrong with Blagojevich’s mental state. It’s not too much of a stretch to say that he had allowed Madigan to drive him a bit mad.

Gov. Bruce Rauner cannot seem to go a day without blaming Madigan for one evil thing or another. And, yes, the governor has actually used the word “evil.”

This has been Rauner’s main talking point since pretty much day one. And it made political sense. Madigan is the most unpopular state-level politician in Illinois. You’re not going to make too many voters unhappy by going after him because so few love the guy.

And by pointing the finger at the wildly unpopular Madigan, Rauner has been able to excuse his own inability to get much of anything done. Madigan has been in charge of the state for 35 years, Rauner regularly says. Everyone else, including the governor, is just a victim helplessly sitting on the sidelines.

Read the rest before commenting, please. Thanks.

*** UPDATE *** Living rent-free in the governor’s head…

- Posted by Rich Miller        

  1. - Arsenal - Monday, Dec 4, 17 @ 9:18 am:

    Great column. I’d been thinking about this lately. For fifteen years, we’ve had an unbroken string of Governors constantly driven to distraction by their need to one-up Madigan. That’s a low-key, but important, factor in getting us to where we are today.

  2. - Thomas Paine - Monday, Dec 4, 17 @ 9:29 am:

    “The best leaders never point out the window to blame external conditions, they look in the mirror.”

    - Jim Collins, two-time NYT best-selling business author

    “The evidence does not support the idea that you need an outside leader to come in and shake up the place to go from good to great. In fact, going for a high-profile outside change agent is negatively correlated with a sustained transformation from good to great.”

    - Jim Collins. Again

    “Larger-than-life, celebrity leaders who ride in from the outside are negatively correlated with going from good to great. Ten of eleven good-to-great CEOs came from inside the company, whereas the comparison companies tried outside CEOs six times more often.”

    - You guessed it, that Collins fella

    Wish the Union League Club would bring Collins in to speak.

  3. - Cubs in '16 - Monday, Dec 4, 17 @ 9:36 am:

    Madigan is to Rauner (and others) as Newman is to Seinfeld.

  4. - My New Handle - Monday, Dec 4, 17 @ 9:42 am:

    “Madigan is the most unpopular state-level politician in Illinois.”

    Why is that?

  5. - wordslinger - Monday, Dec 4, 17 @ 9:50 am:

    Cubs, more like Lloyd Braun is to George.

    I dont get Rauner’s whole deal, spending all his time and money complaining about how helpless he is. What’s his point, what does he get out of it? He’s built a very expensive propaganda machine that portrays him as a chronic whiny loser. Congratulations.

    Now, with all his lying and betrayals, he’s earned the distrust and contempt of virtually everyone he has to work with — left, right and middle. I can’t imagine what his expectations are for a second term. It won’t be better.

  6. - Streator Curmudgeon - Monday, Dec 4, 17 @ 9:51 am:

    “Strawberries. Who stole my strawberries?”

  7. - Honeybear - Monday, Dec 4, 17 @ 9:58 am:

    I’m beginning to think of Madigan as an LSD trip.
    If you’re solid and of good heart and mind
    your experience of Madigan will be
    weird, unexpected, possibly anxiety producing,
    but an experience of altered reality.
    But if your heart and mind are twisted and dark
    your trip with Madigan
    will be a horror of epic proportions.

  8. - Cubs in '16 - Monday, Dec 4, 17 @ 10:07 am:

    Madigan is the red dot on Rauner’s cashmere sweater. Ok, I’m done with the Seinfeld references.

  9. - Jimk849 - Monday, Dec 4, 17 @ 10:14 am:

    If Madigan is wildly unpopular then I guess you could say Rauner is quickly becoming wildly irrelevant.

  10. - Anonymous - Monday, Dec 4, 17 @ 10:15 am:

    Madigan is that infuriating itch you can’t reach to those guys mentioned, and the citizens who’ve blistered under his power plays over the years. He’ll decide when to leave, so the smart play would be to acknowledge the fact and try to get thru the day. He can’t live forever. Or..

  11. - Annonin' - Monday, Dec 4, 17 @ 10:23 am:

    Reading this reminded us of the iconic mayoralty of the late Harold Washington. He got a lot of cover from Fast Eddie V and the 29. One wonders why GovJunk did not use this same dodge to cover some his many fumbles? Instead he pays some generally unknown magoos from neighborin’ states $100K each to remind IL voters of the failed GovJunk legacy.

  12. - Honeybadger - Monday, Dec 4, 17 @ 10:25 am:

    I was thinking along the same lines here.

    Madigan is to Rauner (and others) as Newman is to Seinfeld.

    Only my thought was Madigan is to Rauner and others as Clinton and all Democrats are to Trump.

  13. - VanillaMan - Monday, Dec 4, 17 @ 10:35 am:

    Rauner knew who he needed to deal with before he announced his 2014 campaign. He knew Madigan was the dealmaker. Instead of figuring the Speaker out, Rauner carpet bombed Madigan, insulted his daughter, called him a crook, accused the Speaker of crimes and expected that MJM would run away.

    Rauner represented a Quinn backlash. Rauner had very little in mandates. Then he wasted his honeymoon period burning every bridge to compromise, even in his own party, spend a fortune on trolling TV ads against everyone, attacked everyone with government experience and did a poor job.

    Madigan waited until Rauner imploded.

  14. - David - Monday, Dec 4, 17 @ 10:42 am:

    I notice when he lost in the pension …by the court…he does not like to revisit it. Cullertons attempt never went anywhere.

  15. - ZC - Monday, Dec 4, 17 @ 10:50 am:

    “Who is Mike Madigan? He is supposed to be Irish. Some say his father was German… To hear Kobayashi tell it, anybody could have worked for Madigan. You never knew. That was his power. And just like that … he is gone.”

  16. - MOON - Monday, Dec 4, 17 @ 11:04 am:


    I am curious, please explain your comment. Thanks

  17. - ZC - Monday, Dec 4, 17 @ 11:06 am:

    It’s a The Usual Suspects quote. 1995 movie starring Kevin Spacey

  18. - Lucky Pierre - Monday, Dec 4, 17 @ 11:18 am:

    Rauner is not a victim of Madigan. He will be fine no matter what.

    The citizens of Illinois who are not part of his special interest base are the victims of Madigan.

    Illinois has been on a downward trajectory since Democrats took total control in 2003. Illinois had just $7.6 billion in general obligations bonds at the close of fiscal year 2002 and its unfunded pension liability hovered around $35 billion.

    Now we are here:

    “$251 billion pension time bomb
    While the budget impasse is throwing a spotlight on Illinois’s dire financial situation today, the fiscal problems go back at least to the 1980s and involve politicians from both parties.
    The most glaring evidence is the enormous pension crisis. Rather than dealing with the problem, Illinois continued to reward the state’s powerful unions with more generous benefits.

    The problem festered for so long that Moody’s estimates Illinois has unfunded pension liabilities totaling $251 billion. To put that into context, that’s more than the combined market value of four major Illinois companies: Boeing (BA), Caterpillar (CAT), United Continental (UAL) and Allstate (ALL).
    “The massive pension liability results from a chronic tendency to defer difficult decisions,” said Ted Hampton, who as a senior credit officer at Moody’s will help decide whether to downgrade Illinois into junk.

    Hampton said Illinois treated the pension fund as a “financial cushion” that could be relied on to provide fiscal relief. He also pointed to a tendency to delay paying bills and chronically underestimate spending needs.
    “All of these problems are governance and management weaknesses,” Hampton said.
    That’s a polite way of saying the political leaders broke the system.”

    Mike Madigan has done nothing to solve our problems. He has had more to do with creating these problems than any other politican currently in office. Mike Madigan has broken Illinois and he will do nothing to fix it.

    Illinois cannot be fixed until Madigan’s hold on our state is gone.

    JB agrees with Madigan’s policies 100%

  19. - ChicagoVinny - Monday, Dec 4, 17 @ 11:21 am:

    ““I am not in charge” seems like a good slogan for re-electing a sitting governor. /s

  20. - Rich Miller - Monday, Dec 4, 17 @ 11:21 am:

    ===Rauner is not a victim of Madigan===

    “I am not in charge.”

    Time to reboot the bots!

  21. - Arsenal - Monday, Dec 4, 17 @ 11:26 am:

    ==JB agrees with Madigan’s policies 100%==

    You were just going on last week about how Madigan never even proposed a progressive income tax.

    Now, dance, dance, dance!

  22. - Dome Gnome - Monday, Dec 4, 17 @ 11:45 am:

    Best explanation ever proffered has to be “Honeybear’s LSD Razor” @ 9:58.

  23. - Oswego Willy - Monday, Dec 4, 17 @ 11:46 am:

    ===Rauner is not a victim of Madigan.===

    Every single thing you wrote… is in complete counter to Rauner saying…

    “I am not in charge.”

    See, ya can’t say you’re not in charge, then decide Rauner isn’t a victim… Rauner… himself… says he’s a victim.

    ===Hampton said Illinois treated the pension fund as a “financial cushion” that could be relied on to provide fiscal relief. He also pointed to a tendency to delay paying bills and chronically underestimate spending needs.
    “All of these problems are governance and management weaknesses,” Hampton said.
    That’s a polite way of saying the political leaders broke the system.”===

    Governors own pension liability…. along with the downgrades…

    ===“Illinois’ credit rating has been downgraded 13 times under Pat Quinn and now, because of his failed leadership, our state’s economy and finances are still broken. Pat Quinn put special interest politics ahead of Illinois workers. We need to change direction before it’s too late.” – Rauner campaign spokesperson Mike Schrimpf […]===

    In two years, Rauner has had 6 downgrades… and counting.

    Governor Bruce Rauner fails.

    Candidate Bruce Rauner tells me so.===

    Rauner’s 6 downgrades, with pension liabilities too… that’s on Rauner.

    You may need a “super bot reboot”


  24. - Anon221 - Monday, Dec 4, 17 @ 11:46 am:

    Just think if Rauner had tried, “I am not in charge,” in his former bidness life. Yep, that would have worked./S

  25. - SSL - Monday, Dec 4, 17 @ 11:53 am:

    Sadly there is plenty of room in Rauner’s head for Madigan to reside. Plus Madigan is a tiny little fella and he doesn’t take up much space.

    When Illinois finally implodes, and it is coming, there will be plenty of blame to go around. Bruce and Mike will point their fingers at each other, but they’ve both contributed a great deal to the demise of a once great state.

    Merry Christmas everyone.

  26. - Shark Sandwich - Monday, Dec 4, 17 @ 11:55 am:

    Rauner’s not in charge?

    Where’s a take charge guy like Al Haig when you really need him?

  27. - VanillaMan - Monday, Dec 4, 17 @ 11:56 am:

    It is Rauner’s job to be in charge, and since 2015, he has failed us.

    His failure is not a recommendation for reelection.
    Quite the opposite.

  28. - Montrose - Monday, Dec 4, 17 @ 11:57 am:

    “I’m not in charge”

    I’m glad he finally settled on a campaign slogan.

  29. - Demoralized - Monday, Dec 4, 17 @ 12:05 pm:

    Whew. He’s not in charge? That’s a pretty sad statement. If he thinks he’s that impotent he needs to step aside and let someone else see if they can figure out how to be Governor. He doesn’t seem to be able to. Blaming everyone else isn’t governing.

  30. - Demoralized - Monday, Dec 4, 17 @ 12:09 pm:

    ==Rauner is not a victim of Madigan.==

    Dude, you need to pick a lane. You constantly argue that.

  31. - Reality - Monday, Dec 4, 17 @ 12:14 pm:

    ==Mike Madigan has done nothing to solve our problems. He has had more to do with creating these problems than any other politican currently in office. Mike Madigan has broken Illinois and he will do nothing to fix it.==

    I’m not shilling for Madigan, but I’m so tired of this BS line devoid of actual reality and facts. You blame one person for every bad policy of the past 40+ years.

    You blame him for every budget passed (or failed to pass) in the past 35 years, even though getting a budget should be the job of the Governor. And despite whatever number is appropriated, Madigan can’t spend money for the Governor’s agencies - only they can do that. How can you blame Madigan when Rauner overspends by $2.8B? You think it was Madigan’s people making those spending decisions? Doubtful.

    You blame Mike Madigan for the pension crisis, ignoring that the pension crisis started after WWII, and every pension bill that has cost the state money was either requested by a governor or signed by a governor. But why bother spreading blame to the chief executive of the state, when it’s just so darn easy to blame the person who controls one chamber or a bicameral General Assembly.

    You claim he runs the State, but last I checked the IL Constitution requires the election of SIX executive officers, 177 members of the General Assembly, 7 members of a Supreme Court and thousands of judges. Nearly half of all of these elected officials are Republicans.

    If Madigan were to be the only person in charge, he would have to control the Senate for the past 35 years. You might want to talk to Pate Phillips - I don’t think he would agree with you. Or Emil Jones. He definitely won’t agree with you.

    Your boogeyman propaganda machine has worked. Most people in Illinois hate Mike Madigan. But what the hell are you going to do when he does actually leave office and you’re still stuck with the same problems? Who are you going to blame them?

  32. - Oswego Willy - Monday, Dec 4, 17 @ 12:17 pm:

    I’ve heard, from real insiders with real inside information…

    “Rauner’s a wimp, I didn’t know for sure until that very quote, but it’s been ‘Ole Slip and Sue’ all along.”

  33. - Montrose - Monday, Dec 4, 17 @ 12:29 pm:

    In his mind, you are only in charge if you get the final say and others have follow your dictates. Because he can’t be an autocrat, like he was as a venture capitalist, he isn’t in charge. Another clear sign he never understood the job and never will.

  34. - Annonin' - Monday, Dec 4, 17 @ 12:32 pm:

    If GovJunk not in charge who handed out the kinky contract for Brney’s furniture and McKinsey?

  35. - RNUG - Monday, Dec 4, 17 @ 12:33 pm:

    Illinois Governor’s Office - most powerful in the nation

    Rauner - most deliberately (?) ineffective Governor in the nation

    “I’m afraid I can’t do that …”

    Does not compute.

  36. - @MisterJayEm - Monday, Dec 4, 17 @ 12:37 pm:

    “Rauner is not a victim of Madigan.”

    Rauner, like the rest of Illinois, is a victim of Rauner.

    – MrJM

  37. - RNUG - Monday, Dec 4, 17 @ 12:42 pm:

    == Another clear sign he never understood the job and never will. ==

    Yep. Rauner still thinks he bought the State, not just the Governor’s Office.

  38. - 47th Ward - Monday, Dec 4, 17 @ 12:46 pm:

    If we’re still going with Seinfeld analogies, Madigan’s political skills are real and spectacular.

  39. - Joe Bidenopolous - Monday, Dec 4, 17 @ 1:00 pm:

    There’s a common belief that if you are rich it is because you are smart, hardworking and dedicated.

    But the truth is, there are a lot of stupid rich people.

  40. - Oswego Willy - Monday, Dec 4, 17 @ 1:04 pm:

    Rauner: I’m not in charge.


    BAIER: So what would be different in a second term?


  41. - Wallinger Dickus - Monday, Dec 4, 17 @ 1:05 pm:

    “”Most people in Illinois hate Mike Madigan. But what the hell are you going to do when he does actually leave office and you’re still stuck with the same problems? Who are you going to blame them?”

    My money’s on Obama. /sn

  42. - Treat - Monday, Dec 4, 17 @ 1:10 pm:

    Ok Gov, I’ll vote Madigan out as soon as he appears on my ballot. Until then I will vote for someone who can work with him.

  43. - Arthur Andersen - Monday, Dec 4, 17 @ 1:28 pm:

    47, if you can stand one more Seinfeld, also appears Rauner’s political skills have suffered some serious shrinkage.

  44. - wordslinger - Monday, Dec 4, 17 @ 1:42 pm:

    – I am not in charge.–

    Obvious follow-up question:

  45. - 47th Ward - Monday, Dec 4, 17 @ 1:46 pm:

    Lol AA, he was in the pool.

    And Rauner wants to be our latex salesman.

  46. - believe it or not, I am not at home - Monday, Dec 4, 17 @ 2:21 pm:

    lol AA like a frightened turtle

  47. - justacitizen - Monday, Dec 4, 17 @ 7:42 pm:

    President Trump and Governor Rauner are very similar. They know how they feel. They just do not use their words very well. He should have said I’m in charge of the executive branch; however, the Speaker in charge of the legislative branch has thwarted effort that are in the best interest of the citizens of the State of IL for the last xx years (or similar language).

    I actually agree Madigan is the worst thing that has happened in IL, but saying that u are not in charge is not the best way to express that belief.

  48. - RNUG - Monday, Dec 4, 17 @ 9:55 pm:


    … but there are so many things within Rauner’s control that he could have done.

    He could have cut all that waste, fraud, and abuse … but his Directors testified they couldn’t find any to propose eliminating.

    He could have streamlined management and reporting; instead he added extra layers / additional expenses by creating duplicative positions and reporting structures.

    He could have ordered his agencies to sequester 5% or 10% of their funds, effectively cutting the approved budget, but he didn’t … which is surprising because even the “failed” Quinn administration managed that step. Instead, he managed to run up an additional $2.8B in unauthorized expenditures.

    Rauner could have learned to take the deals that were offered him, but 90% of what he wanted wasn’t enough. He could have gotten a lot done on his own, but he was so obsessed with destroying Madigan and the unions that he ended up getting almost nothing done.

    As I commented in another post, Rauner still doesn’t understand he didn’t buy the entire State, all he bought was the Governor’s Office.

Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.

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