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What’s the dealio on Cullerton and Sandoval?

Wednesday, Oct 9, 2019

* My Crain’s Chicago Business column

On paper, at least, House Speaker Michael Madigan and Senate President John Cullerton appear pretty similar.

They’ve both served in the General Assembly since the 1970s, they’re Chicago Democrats from political families and are White Sox fans with season tickets. Cullerton is the godfather of Madigan’s only son.

But they don’t wield their power the same way.

Over the years, Madigan has been far more top-down than Cullerton. His nickname isn’t the “Velvet Hammer” for nothing. Madigan’s longtime chief of staff, Tim Mapes, was given more power than any of the speaker’s elected members. Madigan’s staff constantly tries to micromanage House Democrats. Cullerton’s staff is much more deferential.

Cullerton is more of a delegator. He gently defers to his members, even devolving some power to them this year with a committee rules restructuring.

The column eventually gets to what I think is behind Cullerton’s refusal to move Sen. Martin Sandoval out of his Transportation Committee chairmanship, so go read the rest before commenting, please.

* Related…

* Editorial: Pritzker’s right, remove transportation chair

* Editorial: Before spending on roads, bridges, Sandoval must go

* Senator under scrutiny by feds exerted muscle on tollway’s contract with campaign donor

* Silence on Sandoval? Illinois lawmaker’s reaction is priceless: BRADLEY: “Okay, let’s go outside. You don’t want to talk about a senator who has received search warrants?”

- Posted by Rich Miller        

8 Comments »
  1. - @misterjayem - Wednesday, Oct 9, 19 @ 8:37 am:

    My personal style is much more Cullerton than Madigan, but sometimes leadership means you’ve gotta knock some heads and take some heat.

    – MrJM


  2. - Flat Bed Ford - Wednesday, Oct 9, 19 @ 10:07 am:

    Cullerton’s “mutual agreement” style will almost certainly bring him some trouble. Akin to sleeping with the dogs and getting fleas.


  3. - Norseman - Wednesday, Oct 9, 19 @ 10:17 am:

    Good analysis. It explains why Madigan has been able to roll Cullerton on so many issues. Cullerton always had a reputation for seeking compromise. Generally a good character trait. However, there are times when leadership requires standing your ground on issues. Conflict avoidance explains so many things. (P.S. I had to confess a conflict avoidance strain myself, but I’m not a leader nor running for one.)


  4. - ILGA.gov reader - Wednesday, Oct 9, 19 @ 11:01 am:

    Cullerton didn’t give the Labor Chair position to the Vice Chair because the VC is Suzy Glowiak who is a freshman


  5. - Just Me 2 - Wednesday, Oct 9, 19 @ 11:34 am:

    It truly is disgusting that Sandoval is still Chairman of that Committee, and collecting its stipend. I’m willing to bet the committee won’t have a hearing anytime soon as well so Sandoval can continue to collect his money.

    So, good for him robbing the people of Illinois and still getting his full pay.

    At least this corrupt State is consistent in its constant corruption.


  6. - Token Conservative - Wednesday, Oct 9, 19 @ 12:44 pm:

    What you call deferential, others call gutless.


  7. - Oswego Willy - Wednesday, Oct 9, 19 @ 1:10 pm:

    Rich, your skill and gift in the works you write, like this one, continually clears the skies and puts forward the real politics that some lazy folks miss.

    Governing and politics, they both are a people business.

    People.

    The best things about people and the worst things are how some see as assets, others see as flaws.

    While the easy says a Pollyanna view of “doing right always” should be the default, people’s strengths (or flaws) inevitably run counter to the obvious.

    Sandoval should be removed, Sandoval should step down.

    It’s way too easy to berate Cullerton. I think Cullerton isn’t handling it well.

    I also, the raw here, respect Cullerton being true to who he is, and how he goes about his business, for better or worse.

    At some point the politics will supersede style?


  8. - JP Altgeld - Wednesday, Oct 9, 19 @ 3:22 pm:

    @Rich

    I thought this was an excellent column.


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