The amorality of Illinois politics is on display in House Speaker Michael Madigan's re-election campaign.
House Speaker Michael Madigan has a well-deserved reputation as a ruthless practitioner of the black art of politics, someone few people are willing to cross.
He's even been called a dictator because of his iron grip on the legislative process in Springfield and the Democratic members of the Illinois House. But what the casual observer might not know is that Madigan's reputation as all-powerful rests on the strength of his hard work and his attention to detail as much as it does on his ruthless tactics and control over the pay, perks and campaign contributions he arranges for his members.
They say that Madigan plays chess while everyone else in Springfield plays checkers. That's hyperbole, but it contains more than a grain of truth.
Here's just one example of how Madigan plays the game, proof that he leaves nothing to chance. The Speaker represents the heavily Democratic Illinois House 22nd District, in Chicago. No Republican can beat him there, and it's a rare Democrat who would ever consider, even for a moment, challenging him.
Yet during the recently expired filing period, a Chicago man identified as Terrence Goggin filed to run as a Republican against Madigan in the November 2014 election.
Who is Goggin? The evidence suggests that Goggin is a Democratic supporter of Madigan who was recruited by Madigan's campaign operation to pose as an election opponent. Channel 32 in Chicago reports that Goggin is running against Madigan for the fourth time since 1998.
Goggin is just the latest in a long string of faux Republicans that the Madigan campaign has recruited as election opponents.
Channel 32 in Chicago reports that Goggin won't discuss his candidacy, hasn't put up a website or opened a campaign fund. If past is prologue, Madigan's purported GOP opponent won't campaign, won't issue any statements addressing any issue and won't leave a trace of his candidacy after the election is over.
A Channel 32 reporter spoke to Goggin's next-door neighbor, who said he wasn't aware that Goggin is running for office.
Further, voting records suggests that six of the seven people who submitted signature petitions on Goggin's behalf also selected Democratic ballots in the last primary election.
Madigan, of course, has nothing to say on the subject of his continued manipulation of the political process for his personal benefit. His spokesman, Steve Brown, issued a non-responsive response to questions about Goggin's phony candidacy.
"I wish Republicans good luck because they're having a bad time in Springfield this week," Brown said.
It's an unvarnished fact that nothing happens in state government without Madigan's active support or approval, and it has been that way for much of the four decades he has been in office. That has not been good for Illinois — he is the one constant in the state's steady decline.
But while he has presided over the disaster that is Illinois, his tactical political maneuvers have been consistently brilliant.The Goggins of the world are just a small part of the Madigan empire, but they are emblematic to his comprehensive, anything-goes approach to achieving his goals.