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Question of the day

Monday, Nov 18, 2019

* Last week, the Tribune editorialized that the Senate needed someone much different from John Cullerton as its next Senate President

The next Senate president could insist on a fair redistricting process. He or she could acknowledge that a state with an unfunded pension liability of $137 billion ought to rethink the rigid pension clause of its constitution. The next president could insist on a more responsible budgeting process that begins in January, not mid-May. The next president could answer the call of voters to put term limits on the ballot.

* The SJ-R editorial board took a much different approach

As the various candidates make their cases for why they should be the next to take up the mantel, we encourage them to model themselves after Cullerton. Illinoisans need people who can be a leader not just for their party, but for the whole state. Serious issues remain to be addressed in Illinois, including the underfunded pension liability, teacher shortfalls, economic development, taxes and a host of other problems that only get worse the longer lawmakers wait to tackle them.

The next leader should pledge to continue to be like Cullerton, in that he or she can see the beauty and benefit of compromise with those with different political ideologies, and who will know when to dig in and when to sit down to hash out a deal on a given issue. Best of luck to Cullerton as he starts a new chapter in his life, and thank you for often being the adult in the room.

* The Question: Without naming any names, what qualities do you think are most important for the next Senate President?

- Posted by Rich Miller        

  1. - Bruce (no not him) - Monday, Nov 18, 19 @ 3:00 pm:

    Honesty. That’s it. Everything else flows from that.

  2. - Chicagonk - Monday, Nov 18, 19 @ 3:01 pm:

    Ethical, hard-working, and a strong leader. Also someone that will make reform a priority and emphasize recruiting strong candidates that ideally will avoid the embarrassing corruption issues plaguing Illinois politics.

  3. - NotRich - Monday, Nov 18, 19 @ 3:02 pm:

    strong leader, good fundraiser, ability to negotiate with the other tops, draw a winning map..

  4. - Boone's is Back - Monday, Nov 18, 19 @ 3:03 pm:

    Consensus builder, epic fundraiser, and long term visionary

  5. - Donnie Elgin - Monday, Nov 18, 19 @ 3:03 pm:

    No self dealing - that would be a good start

  6. - Noah - Monday, Nov 18, 19 @ 3:04 pm:

    Not innately corrupt

  7. - Oswego Willy - Monday, Nov 18, 19 @ 3:06 pm:

    My thoughts before, I stand by them again;

    Be yourself. - While the job will change you, don’t change what others see as your strengths to the job.

    Herd cats, don’t constrain cats - Walk in unison with the diverse caucus and the chamber, but make the process a collaboration and cobbling. The chamber will respect that even handed way.

    Pointed Partisan, Benevolent Bipartisan - the partisan agendas that the votes are easy to tally, that tempered with a grasping of pushing bipartisanship where it’s found, that’s moving the chamber and state forward.

    It’s Not Always Campaign Season - well, 99% think it is and nothing is done in a vacuum, but be open and welcoming to all 58 members as the 39 select you as the eventual President.

    Permanent Interests, Not Permanent Enemies - have a memory like an elephant, and forget the things worth forgetting.

    It’s Show Business - know the difference when you and others are in the show, and when hard feelings can result.

    Think, Laugh, Cry - Jimmy V, the North Carolina State basketball coach who succumbed to cancer left us all with that advice for a full day. Be human.

    Be Honest - with the Press, Caucus, Chamber, and yourself.

  8. - Publius - Monday, Nov 18, 19 @ 3:08 pm:

    Vision with results. The understanding that government is not a business and cannot be run like one.

    And sometimes you have to hit pause before the next decision

  9. - Truthiness - Monday, Nov 18, 19 @ 3:11 pm:

    Money. Can you raise it? All 59 senate seats are up in 2022, can you help your caucus hold its supermajority with cash to pay for staff, polling, operations?

  10. - Responsa - Monday, Nov 18, 19 @ 3:21 pm:

    Say you are going to be a reformer. Be a reformer. No really. Be a real reformer for the Illinois Senate. This job is bigger than mere politics.

  11. - 47th Ward - Monday, Nov 18, 19 @ 3:22 pm:

    Watch the guy who holds the gavel in the US Senate. Model yourself after him by abandoning any personal beliefs in favor of the most expedient way to jam your caucus’ agenda through.

    The most important quality is to use your majority like a Samurai wields his sword, with devastating precision when necessary, and with brute force otherwise. Learn to deceive the public and your opponents with the Devil’s tongue. Care only about the members of your caucus and the larger political tribe to which you belong and govern as if you are the only one in charge (because let’s face it, if you do this properly, you will be the only person in charge).

    Step thinking of the long-term needs of the state, or for what the voters want. Don’t be such a snowflake. If that’s your interest, go out and sell insurance or work for a non-profit. This job requires lead-pipe cruelty and an unwavering devotion to a Me-First philosophy.

    Seriously, if we’ve learned nothing else from this particular US Senate Majority Leader, we’ve learned that when it all comes crashing down, it’ll be the other party that has to clean it up.

    Also, if possible, get your spouse appointed to a position where s/he can direct public spending and concentrate it in your state (I mean district).

    This is what your caucus wants from you. They will gladly trade obedience for survival. Democracy is for suckers.

    “Now I will tell you the answer to my question. It is this. The Party seeks power entirely for its own sake. We are not interested in the good of others; we are interested solely in power, pure power. What pure power means you will understand presently. We are different from the oligarchies of the past in that we know what we are doing. All the others, even those who resembled ourselves, were cowards and hypocrites. The German Nazis and the Russian Communists came very close to us in their methods, but they never had the courage to recognize their own motives. They pretended, perhaps they even believed, that they had seized power unwillingly and for a limited time, and that just around the corner there lay a paradise where human beings would be free and equal. We are not like that. We know that no one ever seizes power with the intention of relinquishing it. Power is not a means; it is an end. One does not establish a dictatorship in order to safeguard a revolution; one makes the revolution in order to establish the dictatorship. The object of persecution is persecution. The object of torture is torture. The object of power is power. Now you begin to understand me.”

    George Orwell, 1984

  12. - Kauaijim - Monday, Nov 18, 19 @ 3:24 pm:

    Sad that fund raising is thought to be a top priority, oh I forgot this is our state .

  13. - Dotnonymous - Monday, Nov 18, 19 @ 3:28 pm:

    The ability to balance the practical with the ideal…and the wisdom to know the difference.

  14. - Lester Holt’s Mustache - Monday, Nov 18, 19 @ 3:29 pm:

    1) fundraising, because JB isn’t going to be around forever
    2) ability to respond deftly to federal and state investigative inquiries
    3) ability to respond deftly to media inquiries regarding said federal and state investigative inquiries
    4) willingness to cut loose corrupt senators when necessary (i.e., don’t just reassign them to chair a different committee - especially if they are your cousin)
    5) given that you’re walking into a supermajority, have a plan in place for when you inevitably lose a few seats

  15. - lake county democrat - Monday, Nov 18, 19 @ 3:37 pm:

    Independence. Bipartisanship of the worst-of-both-worlds kind is what got us into this mess. Lack of bipartisanship deepened it. We need somebody willing to lose a primary to get done what is needed (and someone similar on the other side of the aisle to partner with).

  16. - FormerParatrooper - Monday, Nov 18, 19 @ 3:40 pm:

    Honesty and integrity are values a leader needs. All else is fluff, and fluff isn’t leadership.

  17. - Cheryl44 - Monday, Nov 18, 19 @ 3:43 pm:

    Listen to everyone, especially people you disagree with.

  18. - Da Lobsta - Monday, Nov 18, 19 @ 3:49 pm:

    Experience moving big, complex bills, despite special or regional interests trying to tear them apart at every turn.

    Cool head, leadership, with quick, decisive voice that includes moral clarity. Preferably, not a lawyer with a side gig, to avoid the appearance that those are the only types who get promoted around here.

  19. - Concerned Chicagoan - Monday, Nov 18, 19 @ 3:49 pm:

    Independence - From partisan politics, special interests and most importantly, Mike Madigan.

  20. - My New Handle - Monday, Nov 18, 19 @ 3:54 pm:

    Moral, ethical, honest. Meh. My expectations are low, so to lessen disappointment. But certainly someone with enough flexible integrity to help Illinois stay the course.

  21. - Thomas Paine - Monday, Nov 18, 19 @ 3:55 pm:


    Humble leaders listen to others.

    Humble leaders focus on what’s best for We, not Me.

    Humble leaders admit mistakes, and learn from them.

    Humble leaders toil for their cause, lead by example.

    Humble leaders neither thirst for power nor abuse it.

  22. - Chicago Cynic - Monday, Nov 18, 19 @ 4:02 pm:

    1) High ethical standard willing to work on cleaning up Springfield and mean it.

    2) Not tied or likely to be tied to ComEd/Exelon or the related scandals since that is going to dominate 2020 and beyond.

    3) Progressive but with a proven history of operating in a bipartisan manner, where appropriate.

    4) Someone who knows what it means to work with and protect their caucus.

  23. - Phil Rock - Monday, Nov 18, 19 @ 4:25 pm:


  24. - A guy - Monday, Nov 18, 19 @ 4:37 pm:

    An Idealist with a strong sense of pragmatism.
    A Pragmatist with a strong sense of idealism.

    The SJ-R wrote a thoughtful piece. I sincerely hope they don’t have to have a single regret.

  25. - Quibbler - Monday, Nov 18, 19 @ 4:38 pm:

    An understanding that power is ephemeral and has to be wielded to the greatest extent possible before it’s lost.

  26. - Yellow Dog Democrat - Monday, Nov 18, 19 @ 5:11 pm:

    === an understanding that power is ephemeral ===


    With warmest person regards,

    I remain


  27. - Yellow Dog Democrat - Monday, Nov 18, 19 @ 5:17 pm:

    @Bruce -

    With all respect, “honest” ideologues are not always helpful.

    Jeanne Ives would likely describe herself as “brutally honest.”

    Atleast the old Ives would.

    And an ideologue can come up with all kinds of justifications for all sorts of malfeasance given enough power.

  28. - low level - Monday, Nov 18, 19 @ 5:17 pm:

    A master gerrymanderer who wont back down in the face of the usual nonsense from the Tribune. Especially on the congressional level.

  29. - Anonymous - Monday, Nov 18, 19 @ 5:23 pm:

    == an understanding that power is ephemeral ==

    I think the Illinois GOP might wish that were the case, but Madigan and Cullerton themselves might have other ideas.

  30. - Oswego Willy - Monday, Nov 18, 19 @ 5:26 pm:

    === Cullerton===

    Narrator: Cullerton retired.

  31. - Quibbler - Monday, Nov 18, 19 @ 6:05 pm:

    == I think the Illinois GOP might wish that were the case, but Madigan and Cullerton themselves might have other ideas. ==

    When was the last time Democrats in this state had, all at the same time, (a) a governor; (b) legislative supermajorities; and (c) legislative supermajorities comprised of actual progressives? We know they will have those things in 2020. Beyond that, nothing is guaranteed. There’s no time to limit our political imagination based on the demands of centrists.

  32. - Hamlet's Ghost - Monday, Nov 18, 19 @ 6:07 pm:

    Someone who supports mixed member proportional voting and ranked choice voting in the primary. Also. multi member districts and unicorns.

  33. - Hamlet's Ghost - Monday, Nov 18, 19 @ 6:09 pm:

    Democratic power in Illinois won’t fade until Trump and Trumpism are removed from the national stage. Multi member districts and unicorns are more likely than a GOP resurgence in the Age of Trump.

  34. - Bruce( no not him) - Monday, Nov 18, 19 @ 6:23 pm:

    I guess I mean someone who actually is honest. Not someone who “thinks” they are.

  35. - low level - Monday, Nov 18, 19 @ 7:00 pm:

    ==narrator: Cullerton retired== - OW

    Uh, yes after 11 years as Senate Pres and years of leadership positions before that. If you want to consider that “ ephemeral” well, ok.

  36. - Tim - Monday, Nov 18, 19 @ 7:05 pm:

    Someone that can keep a tight leash on the progressives.
    Someone the realizes there are two sides on a ledger. It can’t always be about more revenues. A serious look needs to be had at reducing expenditures. It really isn’t that hard if you try.
    Someone willing to reduce future pension benefits and benefit increases.
    Someone that will be a grown up and admit out loud that what is happening isn’t working.

  37. - Oswego Willy - Monday, Nov 18, 19 @ 7:12 pm:

    === Someone willing to reduce future pension benefits and benefit increases. Someone that will be a grown up and admit out loud that what is happening isn’t working.===

    Good luck with that. Changing the constitution would be the easiest and that’s not even possible given the 71/36 nature to get it in the ballot.

    This frivolous thinking on pensions… continues.

  38. - Oswego Willy - Monday, Nov 18, 19 @ 8:14 pm:

    - low level -

    Cullerton is out, gone, go after MJM, sure, but win elections if they want leadership changes in the chambers.

    For the love of Pete, Lee Daniels was minority leader for how long? How long was Cross minority leader, what term is this for Durkin?

  39. - Future Senator - Monday, Nov 18, 19 @ 8:35 pm:

    Honesty, integrity, trust, humility, ability to lead leaders, prolific fundraiser,(campaigns cost $$) ability to work with the other chamber (Madigan) without being offensive. Flexibility. Big “I’s” need not apply.

  40. - RNUG - Monday, Nov 18, 19 @ 9:21 pm:

    1) Someone who has the respect of the rest of the members of of the Senate. Yes, I said all of the Senate, not of his party’s members. Another way of saying able to engender bipartisan cooperation whenever possible.

    2) Someone with the vision to work and plan long-term while also bring able to achieve short-term goals and strategic mile posts. While this may just sound like experience, it is a specific set of skills and experience.

    3) Honesty and, when possible, complete transparency.

    4) Tact combined with partisan fervor when required.

    5) Proven fundraising ability … because this is Illinois. But this is #5 on my list because Senators, by the time they become Senators, should have their own established supporter base.

  41. - Just Me - Monday, Nov 18, 19 @ 10:23 pm:

    He needs a good apple slicer.

  42. - Just Me - Monday, Nov 18, 19 @ 10:23 pm:

    (apologies for being sexist, or she)

Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.

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