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Harmon roundup

Tuesday, Jan 21, 2020

* Politico

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.

- Posted by Rich Miller        

22 Comments
  1. - NotRich - Tuesday, Jan 21, 20 @ 1:10 pm:

    I think some are looking at the “Pritzker involvement” in the wrong light.. Very difficult to point a finger at JB’s messing with the vote. However, it was a key staff member and a couple of lobbyists who were deeply involved in trying to stop Sen Harmon from ascending to the Presidency. Do a deep dive there, and you can see a little more turmoil and so called payback..


  2. - lake county democrat - Tuesday, Jan 21, 20 @ 1:11 pm:

    Governor promised to veto a gerrymandered map. Someone should ask if he agrees the current map is “unusually fair.”


  3. - NotRich - Tuesday, Jan 21, 20 @ 1:16 pm:

    “lake county” I bet I can find 60 house members and 30 Senators who will tell you how fair the current map is and how fair the next map will be


  4. - Oak Parker - Tuesday, Jan 21, 20 @ 1:27 pm:

    It’s dishonest to see this as a Pritzker vs Madigan proxy fight. Both Don & Kim have been in the Senate for a long time and their colleagues made a very hard decision between two very well qualified candidates on their own merits.


  5. - City Zen - Tuesday, Jan 21, 20 @ 1:29 pm:

    ==lend them precinct help from Oak Park, where he heads that township’s Democratic organization==

    That one-town township.


  6. - Oswego Willy - Tuesday, Jan 21, 20 @ 1:32 pm:

    The manner by which Governor Pritzker chose to insert himself in the caucus and it’s choice is far different, by miles different, than Mr. Rauner, Governor Pritzker inserted himself all the same, and it’s quite disappointing that this decision to be seen taking sides will also exacerbate the already fractured (for lack of a better/lesser term) way Sen Lightford, who herself nominated President Harmon, who continues to be Majority Leader for the caucus, and now put into play factions, upon the other factions, (like the X Caucus) and also taints the selection processes.

    So to recap;

    The governor chose to be involved at some noticeable level… and Sen. Lightford agreed to the deal… so she could take down Harmon, Emil Jr. and Emil III all in one swoop?

    Looking like that.

    Pretty interesting play; concede, give a nominating platitude, release a statement, let everyone react, then make sure you tell the “backstory”…

    … so in actuality, Sen. Lightford made sure President Harmon won, with her concession, so the backstory has legs after?

    Here I thought there’d be a mending of some fences, here we have whole sectionS of fencing gone, and the X Caucus becomes even more significant than maybe even they thought they’d be?

    Session will be one interesting show.


  7. - Rich Miller - Tuesday, Jan 21, 20 @ 1:33 pm:

    ===lI bet I can find 60 house members and 30 Senators who will===

    Gonna need a solid 71 and 36 to override a veto. And if they can’t, extreme danger lurks.


  8. - NotRich - Tuesday, Jan 21, 20 @ 1:43 pm:

    Mr Miller: give me 45 minutes, I will get the 71 & 36 as necessary :)


  9. - low level - Tuesday, Jan 21, 20 @ 1:45 pm:

    Any vote breakdown between Harmon and Lightford made public?


  10. - Marty36 - Tuesday, Jan 21, 20 @ 1:46 pm:

    Full lawyer employment? Watch President Harmon’s law firm grow to new heights, as Don’s minimal clout grows among State Agencies seeling to make the new guy smile.


  11. - Three Dimensional Checkers - Tuesday, Jan 21, 20 @ 2:28 pm:

    The Democratic Party of Oak Park to me always seemed really effective and probably as powerful as old machine organizations without relying on patronage. It’s obviously a pretty liberal place, but credit where credit is due to capitalize on the political sentiments of the area and turn sentiments into action. I think that one cannot overlook that aspect of President Harmon’s candidacy.


  12. - Shemp - Tuesday, Jan 21, 20 @ 2:40 pm:

    Not going to miss Link. Felt like every time there was legislation increasing costs for local governments, his name was attached to it.


  13. - Loop Lady - Tuesday, Jan 21, 20 @ 2:41 pm:

    Fact: There are no financial dues required to be a member
    of DPOP…you must volunteer a number of hours to enjoy being a member…


  14. - Grandson of Man - Tuesday, Jan 21, 20 @ 3:23 pm:

    Senate Democrats helped pass the most progressive legislation in Illinois history. Policy-wise Illinois Democrats right now are a model for Democrats in other states. New York might take up marijuana legalization again and hopefully add a social equity component.


  15. - Charlie Brown - Tuesday, Jan 21, 20 @ 3:52 pm:

    === Pritzker stayed neutral on the election ===

    Not true. Pritzker issued a statement cheering the potential election of an African American woman as senate president.

    === his underlings ===

    Underling is a derogatory term that I have never heard used to describe senior staff.


  16. - Lincoln Lad - Tuesday, Jan 21, 20 @ 4:10 pm:

    Harmon raises money… Lightford does not.
    Harmon has close relationships with the road builders, trial attorneys, and labor. Far better than Lightford.
    Harmon didn’t give the billionaire governor what he wanted.
    Now the interesting part begins… does the Gov care in a meaningful way? Stay tuned.


  17. - MG85 - Tuesday, Jan 21, 20 @ 4:14 pm:

    ==Harmon can’t risk vindictiveness toward the 17 people who voted against him — especially Sens. Andy Manar and Heather Steans. ==

    I don’t doubt President Harmon may think this, but I find this analysis completely backwards.

    It is Harmon who had the majority vote on the first round of voting. It was an unbinding concession by him to Lightford to do no harm to current leadership holders who supported her. That said, it is he who held the majority and look for that to only grow after the November election with no or minimum loss to the Democratic caucus. When that happens, it is the 17 who voted against Harmon that cannot risk vindictiveness less they desire to be further ostracized.

    Surely, Governor Pritzker can’t find places for them all in his administration.


  18. - Rich Miller - Tuesday, Jan 21, 20 @ 4:15 pm:

    ===When that happens, it is the 17 who voted against Harmon that cannot risk vindictiveness less they desire to be further ostracized===

    He needs 30 votes to be reelected in less than a year.


  19. - Sue - Tuesday, Jan 21, 20 @ 4:57 pm:

    Grandson- you must be a fan of NY’s new bail legislation. Same guy robbed 5 banks in 1/ days even though he was arrested each time. Yea Progressives are helping turn our country to you know what


  20. - Anonymous - Tuesday, Jan 21, 20 @ 4:57 pm:

    “Full lawyer employment? Watch President Harmon’s law firm grow to new heights, as Don’s minimal clout grows among State Agencies seeling to make the new guy smile.”

    Nope. That’s not gonna happen.


  21. - Labor Stands United - Tuesday, Jan 21, 20 @ 11:26 pm:

    I’m not sure that his firm needs much help in growing the business with government agencies and contracts in Illinois. Look at who the partners already represent…

    I honestly just hope he’s not like some of those he works with at his law firm. From my interactions, he’s a kind and thoughtful legislator. However, I have well established concerns about some of his partners and their influence at state agencies.


  22. - JS Mill - Wednesday, Jan 22, 20 @ 8:31 am:

    =Yea Progressives are helping turn our country to you know what=

    Yeah, and the “conservative” war on drugs was really great. /s


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