* Mary Ann Ahern talked to congressional candidate Chuy Garcia about Speaker Madigan…
Garcia still leads in the polls, but his support of Speaker Mike Madigan has raised concerns as questions arise over the speaker’s handling of sexual harassment allegations within his office.
“If there are more findings that there are violations then I reserve the right to support anyone who is in the race to become the chairman of the Democratic Party,” he said.
That’s the big unknown. What else is out there? Lots and lots of rumors are jetting through the gossip-sphere, but nobody has yet come forward. Madigan has been in power for so long that the odds are pretty darned good that more stories are waiting to be told. But how were those cases handled? And will it matter? Will just the existence of other incidences of harassment, bullying or worse create such a firestorm that he can’t survive? We could be about to find out.
Madigan is now in greater peril than ever before.
* Mark Brown…
The biggest factor in Madigan’s immediate fate — the great unknown hanging over all Illinois Democrats right now — is whether more women will come forward publicly to accuse the veteran speaker or his staff of mishandling sexual harassment complaints involving his underlings.
If that happens, then Madigan quickly will find himself in uncharted waters that could defy his proven ability to stay the course and this columnist’s ability to foresee the outcome.
Four years of close combat with Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner have left Madigan a wounded leader whose negative public image has become a liability for his party and its candidates.
The question Democratic officials keep asking themselves is whether Madigan’s liabilities outweigh his value to the party as an election-winner who stands as a bulwark against the policies and politics of Rauner.
* Fran Spielman…
“I don’t think it helps us four weeks before an election to take the person who runs the statewide mechanism and say, `You’re out.’ We’re trying to actually win an election across the state,” said [Ald. Pat O’Connor (40th)], a Democratic ward committeeman.
“It would be like taking Eisenhower out as the troops are landing on Normandy. We just need to make sure that we win this primary. Once the primary is over, then we can figure out where we need to be as a party to take on the Republicans moving forward.” […]
O’Connor stopped short of condoning Madigan’s handling of sexual harassment and bullying allegations within his organization.
“There’s gonna be plenty of time to figure out the sequencing and how this thing worked and figure out whether they made mistakes or not and whether those mistakes rise to the level of him [having to] move away,” O’Connor said.
“I just think doing it before a primary election is just a crazy thing. Let’s get the primary over, figure out who’s gonna take the Republicans on in November, then figure out what our best strategy is to win that race.”
Eisenhower? From a top Republican…
Madigan’s allies are resorting to ridiculous metaphors and hyperbole to defend him. Might be more ridiculous than the time John Bradley compared Madigan to Benjamin Franklin and said that Madigan fits Pope Francis’ definition of a public servant.
* From the Illinois News Network, formerly controlled by the Illinois Policy Institute…
With the exception of a few years in the 1990s, Madigan has been speaker since 1983. He’s been the chairman of the state Democratic party since 1998. Steans said it’s best practice to separate the two roles.
“I think [Madigan is] going to have to make his own decision about whether he steps down or not,” Steans said. “I certainly think best practices are that you shouldn’t wear both of those hats.”
Steans said someone like Madigan holding both positions could cause conflicts of interest, noting that no other Senate president or House speaker in the U.S. is also their state’s party chairman.
“You want somebody as party chair who’s looking out for the entire state, all races, not necessarily mixing it in with the policy of what you’re trying to accomplish in one chamber,” Steans said. “I just think there’s some inherent conflict that can come about because of that.”
Steans is a Sentor and DPI is pretty much all about the House. It’s not about party building, it’s about House building.
* These next two items were mentioned in this morning’s subscriber edition. John Kass…
Democratic Boss Madigan has been frantically trying to put out fires over recent allegations that his top political soldiers have harassed women.
And now there’s another fire for Madigan, from an old ember that’s been smoldering for years in Blue Island, and now blazes again:
State Rep. Bob Rita.
Rita, a top ally of Speaker Michael Madigan in the Illinois House, who’s from a Blue Island family that has controlled Democratic politics there for decades, as if Blue Island were a family business, has trouble in his past.
* Derrick Blakley at CBS 2…
“I don’t think Mike Madigan has been sensitive to the issue of sexual harassment,” says Mary Carvlin, Democratic candidate for state representative.
Carvlin, an elementary school teacher and mother of two, is taking on one of Madigan’s strongest allies, state Rep. Bob Rita, alleging that Madigan’s support for Rita shows he’s no friend of women.
“Where was he 16 years ago, when my opponent Bob Rita was on trial for beating a woman?” she asks.
Back in 2002, Rita was charged with domestic battery and criminal trespass for allegedly beating up an ex-girlfriend. A jury found him not guilty, but the trial judge also extended an order of protection for the woman, against Rita, for two years. […]
For two days, Blakley looked around Blue Island, trying to get Rita’s side of the story – to no avail. He also did not return messages.
* From Rita’s spokesperson…
The order of protection expired with the acquittal. The judge left open a possible hearing on extending it, but prosecutors never pursued that.
* While we’re at it…
By all outside appearances, 2016 was the year Revolution Messaging arrived. The upstart political firm, founded by alumni of Barack Obama’s presidential runs, was the mastermind behind the punk-rock vibe of Bernie Sanders’ campaign and helped him raise a staggering $218 million in small donations.
But inside the firm, the staff was in revolt.
Revolution forced out a female employee in early 2016, just two months after one of the company’s partners ― her supervisor ― had been accused of physically assaulting her at a company holiday function, several people with knowledge of the incident said. The firm had quickly fired the partner. But multiple Revolution employees worried that the woman’s departure was retaliatory ― and symptomatic of a workplace in which some women and people of color felt overlooked or marginalized.
An expenditure search of the Illinois State Board of Elections’ website turned up these results…
* Kennedy for Illinois ($174,429.75 from 3/28/2017 through 11/1/2017)
* Chicago for Rahm Emanuel ($12,500 in 2011)
* Citizens to Elect Karen Lewis Mayor of Chicago ($4,750 in late 2014 through early 2015.
* Chicagoans United for Economic Security PAC ($35,051.25 in 2015)
Remember that any campaign using the firm this quarter wouldn’t show up in that search.