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How impeachment led to more bipartisanship in the Illinois Senate

Tuesday, Dec 10, 2019

* I forgot about this anniversary while blogging yesterday, but tweeted it out last night…

* Let’s go back to Dan Vock’s interview of Senate President John Cullerton

Blagojevich swore Cullerton in as Senate president on Jan. 14, 2009, and, almost immediately, the Senate began preparing for the governor’s impeachment trial. Even though Blagojevich was a Democrat, he could count on little support from his fellow Democrats in the legislature during the impeachment. The House approved charges against him on a 117-1 vote, with the only dissent coming from Blagojevich’s sister-in-law. Two weeks later, the Senate voted unanimously to remove Blagojevich from office. Cullerton called it a “shameful low” in Illinois’ history.

“I personally voted to remove Mr. Blagojevich, the former governor, from office today for three reasons,” Cullerton said after the vote. “He has demonstrated a clear inability to govern. He has shown disdain for the laws and the processes of the state. And he has deliberately and pathologically abused his power without regard for the people he was elected to serve.”

Cullerton now says the impeachment trial also set a tone of bipartisan cooperation in the chamber. Both he and Radogno, the Senate Republican leader, had just assumed the top spots in their caucuses when the trial began. Illinois had not had an impeachment trial since the days of Abraham Lincoln, so the staffs had to work together to develop the procedures for how to handle the governor’s trial. […]

But it also helped that both caucus leaders were new, Radogno says. “There had been a bitter, unproductive relationship between previous leaders,” she says. “We said, point blank, we’re not going to perpetuate that kind of dysfunction. It’s not good for the institution… We did try to conduct matters in a way that was obviously partisan, but at least respectful.”


- Posted by Rich Miller        

  1. - Juvenal - Tuesday, Dec 10, 19 @ 11:48 am:

    Blagojevich was also a hyper-partisan, like Rauner and Trump. Some level of partisanship is normal, and there will always be partisan issues. But hyper-partisanship makes it impossible to get big things done.

    Daniels was also a hyperpartisan, as was Madigan before him. Two years under Daniels thumb on the receiving end made Madigan realize that was no way to govern.

  2. - NIU Grad - Tuesday, Dec 10, 19 @ 11:49 am:

    The Cullerton/Radogno dynamic seemed like a good model to follow for caucus relationships.

  3. - Southern Illinois Mayor - Tuesday, Dec 10, 19 @ 11:49 am:

    Real leaders put substance and respect for the bodies they serve before party.

  4. - Oswego Willy - Tuesday, Dec 10, 19 @ 11:58 am:

    === The Cullerton/Radogno dynamic seemed like a good model to follow for caucus relationships.===

    Concur. I’d also say those seemingly concerned about current leaders working towards a strong working relationship have no idea, and no standing in trying their own hand at leadership as well.

    While I don’t disagree at all with all above, in the great work and answers got by Daniel Vock, or the comments, I do think the following was a factor;

    Blagojevich was the first (Rauner tried too) to scheme out a “Governor’s Caucus” approach, bipartisan, but the hitch was it was uber-partisan to the governor. It’s not that all sides were “working together”, it was a governor driving a wedge between both caucuses aimed solely at an agenda the governor wanted.

    While Rod never had the means to do it, and Rauner was wholly despised by his agenda wants, the difference really was Rod became “unlikable” and isolated, then he became, literally, isolated, even from his own office and its workings.

    I felt it was easier for ALL to rally and do the right and just thing with Rod, as Rod alienated the caucuses, then the institutions, and it became obvious his crimes were driving all those issues too.

    As I said, this is in conjunction, not taking away from anything above.

  5. - Roman - Tuesday, Dec 10, 19 @ 11:59 am:

    Politicians and pundits talk a lot about bipartisanship, but rarely actually do anything about it. Cullerton and Radogno did a heck of a lot more than just talk. They really stuck their necks out with their Grand Bargain effort — and organized labor and Rauner tried to cut their heads off.

    They really never got the credit they both deserved. Springfield is a lesser place without them.

  6. - Quibbler - Tuesday, Dec 10, 19 @ 12:00 pm:

    == But hyper-partisanship makes it impossible to get big things done. ==

    The last 25 years of American politics makes it clear that hyper-partisanship is the *only* way to get big things done. It’s why nothing major has gotten through Congress since the fleeting Dem majorities of 09-10 that passed Obamacare. And Illinois Dems were only able to push through anything resembling a progressive agenda in the past session by ousting the “moderate” GOP governor and securing super-majorities in both houses of the legislature. That’s why the question in the OP is the wrong one. Even if impeachment did foster bipartisanship, who cares?

  7. - lincoln's beard - Tuesday, Dec 10, 19 @ 1:17 pm:

    bipartisanship is bad, it makes politics too clubby and obscures that real differences should exist between the parties. when you’ve got a lot of “bipartisanship” going on, it’s a field day for lobbyists, and you get a bunch of do-nothing bills, and giveaways to special interests, but you don’t get actual policy results for the working people of Illinois. Actual politics has opposed interests and winners and losers.

  8. - Just Me 2 - Tuesday, Dec 10, 19 @ 1:35 pm:

    Cullerton has also showed disdain for the political process by manipulating his resignation so that party bosses pick his replacement instead of having a primary election.

Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.

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