* Most of the coverage focused on yesterday’s press releases and well-known references to the past. I figure we’ll see more retrospectives in the coming days, but here’s Brenden Moore…
Lawmakers and political observers in downstate Illinois say his first focus was ultimately Chicago, but that Madigan also had a statewide lens that he used to both pass policies that helped areas outside the city and to elect Democrats from those areas.
“He understood that for Democrats to be a vibrant force in Springfield, they needed to have some power outside of Chicago,” said John Shaw, director of the Paul Simon Public Policy Institute at Southern Illinois University Carbondale. “So I do think that he worked to advance the statewide agenda, and not just the Chicago exclusive agenda.” […]
But there are almost no Democrats left who represent mostly rural, conservative constituencies, a stark change from the early days of Madigan’s House tenure, when his best friend, the now-indicted Mike McLean, was a Democrat from Quincy. And Jim McPike, a Democrat from Alton, was his majority leader from 1983 to 1995.
Yet, just as the elder Daley — Madigan’s political mentor — worked with the opposite political party, Madigan “was willing to work with downstate Republican governors like (Jim) Edgar and George Ryan,” Shaw said.
Edgar, a native of Coles County who was the state’s moderate Republican governor from 1991 to 1999, said that “downstate probably did better off of Madigan’s speakership than they might have thought.”
Even as he battled to maintain his grip on the speaker’s gavel, Madigan remained a prodigious fundraiser, bringing in more than $6 million in contributions to his Friends of Michael J. Madigan campaign fund in the final three months of 2020.
Altogether, the four funds under his control, which also include the 13th Ward Democratic Organization, the Democratic Party of Illinois and Democratic Majority, ended 2020 with more than $18.8 million in the bank.
Madigan’s main campaign fund continued to cover his legal fees related to the ongoing federal investigation, paying more than $1 million to law firm Katten Muchin Rosenman in the final three months of 2020, according to state campaign finance records. In all, his campaign fund paid Katten more than $1.7 million in legal fees last year.
State campaign finance law allows Madigan to continue covering legal expenses out of his campaign fund regardless of whether he remains in office.
* Mark Brown…
Michael J. Madigan, never one to tell anybody outside the family what he’s thinking, let us in Thursday on a surprising secret.
Not that he was resigning the Southwest Side legislative seat he has held for 50 years. No, that’s been expected since he was supplanted as House speaker last month.
The surprise was to learn that Madigan cares what the public thinks about him.
In a carefully crafted announcement laying out his accomplishments in office, the oft-maligned Democratic politician took a belated stab at reshaping his tarnished legacy.
Where many of us saw a career chiefly characterized by the shrewd accumulation and exercise of power, Madigan now asks us to see a life of public service dedicated to improving “the lives of the most vulnerable” and helping “hardworking people build a good life.”
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