With just a year before the next Senate president election, Harmon can’t risk vindictiveness toward the 17 people who voted against him — especially Sens. Andy Manar and Heather Steans. He also must juggle relationships with House Speaker Mike Madigan and Gov. J.B. Pritzker, who suffered his first political miscalculation since becoming governor.
Pritzker stayed neutral on the election, but his underlings worked the phones on behalf of Lightford. And that rubbed some senators the wrong way. They say it’s reminiscent of former Gov. Bruce Rauner’s heavy-handed tactics. The goal, after all, is to make sure there’s a clear delineation between the Senate, House and governor’s office.
Harmon’s politics align with Pritzker’s, even though they’ve differed now and again — remember Harmon endorsed Pritzker’s primary opponent, Daniel Biss, in 2018. But don’t be surprised to see Harmon and Pritzker singing from the same songbook in a few months.
Harmon also can’t ignore the senators who stood by him, including the newly emboldened moderates from the so-called X Caucus.
Watch for the naming of caucus whips and the reallocation of committees. The new whips are expected to assume increased leadership roles once the old leadership exits.
Also for your radar: Sen. Terry Link, who reportedly wore a wire for the feds, is expected to retire.
Harmon also assumes responsibility for the Senate Dems’ electoral machinery. He has a meeting with the campaign side Thursday to set that process in motion.
I concur with much of that and told subscribers some of the same stuff on Sunday.
While more than a few Harmon supporters were indeed comparing the involvement by some of the governor’s people to Bruce Rauner, they were being ridiculous. Rauner repeatedly threatened members with hostile primaries if they didn’t do exactly what he said. Pritzker has never done such a thing, or anything even close to that. Can you imagine Gov. Chillax flying into a threatening rage? Please.
But the governor does have some work to do.
* On to this from Greg Hinz…
A related issue coming up fast is how the General Assembly will reapportion itself after this year’s U.S. Census.
Harmon’s members clearly are most interested in getting themselves and their associates re-elected and keeping power. There’s good cause to think that’s a major reason why Harmon got more votes than Lightford.
After all, Harmon has more than $2.2 million in his political war chest and has a reputation of going out of his way to help colleagues raise money and lend them precinct help from Oak Park, where he heads that township’s Democratic organization.
But the new leader also is considered a bit of a reformer and is under strong pressure not to rubber-stamp a Democratic gerrymander. Asked about that recently by TV interviewer Mark Maxwell, Harmon hedged, saying he’s “open to considering” remap reform but also describing the state’s current, Democrat-dominated map as “unusually fair.”
* Here’s some of what Harmon said…
I am in favor of redistricting reform. The Senate tried to advance something a decade ago, I would certainly be open to considering that. But unless we can ask the voters to approve that in the next election, we’re going to have to follow the existing rules.
Um, they don’t need to pass a constitutional amendment to change the way redistricting is done in Illinois. Yes, it would be preferable to lock it in that way. But legislators could simply pass a bill setting up a truly independent remap process. So, he’s wrong about that last part.
* This is from his law firm bio…
Donald F. Harmon joined Burke Burns & Pinelli, Ltd. as a partner in January 2005. He practices primarily in the areas of corporate law and civil litigation. His practice concentrates mainly on transactional matters, serving both private and public sector clients. Mr. Harmon has counseled corporate and municipal clients on general organizational and operation matters as well as in complex transactions, including lending and financing transactions, real estate development matters, land use and zoning matters, and corporate mergers and acquisitions. He has also rendered legal counsel and opinions in sophisticated municipal finance transactions, serving variously as bond counsel, underwriter’s counsel, bank counsel, borrower’s counsel, and issuer’s counsel.
Mr. Harmon has also offered advice and guidance to not-for-profit corporations, in both general corporate matters and financing transactions. Mr. Harmon participates in the firm’s appellate litigation practice and counsels clients on pre-litigation dispute resolution matters. He also represents clients in personal injury, product liability, class action, and Workers’ Compensation litigation.
We’ve heard a lot about property tax lawyers involved with politics. We haven’t heard much about bond lawyers. That business can be very political and quite lucrative. And, of course, there’s the personal injury attorney angle.
To be clear, I’m not trying to say anything bad about Harmon here. I’ve yet to see much if anything to suggest he is anything but straight-up.
* I went over this topic with subscribers earlier today…
* The ‘X Caucus’ factor: Concessions to moderates key in Harmon’s election as Senate leader: Hastings said the eventual unanimous support from the Democratic members of the Senate without a second ballot indicated Harmon’s “professionalism” and ability to lead. Aside from seeking rules to “increase chairmanship power” and the inclusion of “various caucuses” in leadership roles, Hastings said the X Caucus sought a “more inclusive” leadership approach. “Not that the last Senate president wasn’t inclusive, but a more inclusive approach toward what’s going on in the in the caucus,” he said. “So information flow was a very important topic when picking a new Senate president.”
* A more moderate political climate in Springfield?: In an interview with Capitol News Illinois, Hastings called the caucus “a good group of commonsense, consensus-building legislators” who “don’t fit into the ultraconservative or ultraliberal sects” of the Democratic Party. To some, perhaps many, that’s music to the ears. While some notable regret was expressed that Lightford did not become the first African-American woman to serve as Senate president in state history, the choice of Harmon has wider appeal. Now, hopefully, his ascension will include a “practice what you preach’’ component, and Harmon will work to bring his party, which dominates state politics, closer to the center.
As I pointed out to subscribers, Harmon was also supported by some of the most liberal members of his caucus.