It's both amusing and disappointing to watch two Democratic House candidates start tap-dancing when the name of House Speaker Michael Madigan comes up.
Since there's a very good chance that the winner of the Democratic Party primary in the 103th Illinois House District will be the general election winner in the fall, it's time to shame the two competing Democrats into acknowledging reality.
Democratic Speaker Madigan will be the only candidate for another two-year term as the man in charge. No one will dare to oppose him. That's just the way it will be. Democratic House candidates Carol Ammons and Sam Rosenberg need to stop insulting the voters by pretending otherwise.
Here's a recent quote from Rosenberg during a local radio appearance on the issue of voting for Madigan for another term as the all-powerful speaker.
"I am not sure if I would vote for him as speaker of the House. I have not met the man, and I would have to have a conversation with him and see who else is running, of course. Just as one does not vote on a bill until they read it, one does not vote for someone until they've heard their positions," he said.
Rosenberg's comment is especially disingenuous; after all, Madigan is helping to fund his campaign.
But Ammons' comments on the subject are only slightly less egregious.
"I don't have a position at this point. I don't know who's running for speaker of the House. But I'm told that if no one else is running, he won't need my vote," she said.
It's strange that two candidates who have a position on almost every issue known to man are so perplexed by the question of what they'll do about Madigan. They just don't know if he's running; they just don't know who will run against him; they just don't know — so they can't possibly address this question.
If he's still breathing and Democrats retain the House, which they almost certainly will, Madigan will run unopposed for another term as speaker.
But Rosenberg and Ammons don't have to take our word for it. After all, after 43-plus years in the House and nearly 30 years as speaker, it's plausible that this brilliant, amoral, ruthless, ethically compromised power broker might choose to step aside and let someone else call the shots. Right? No, emphatically no.
Says who? Says the speaker's daughter, Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan, who's in a position to know.
After all, it was only a few months ago when the ambitious attorney general, thought to be positioning herself to challenge Gov. Patrick Quinn in the March 18 Democratic Party primary, suddenly announced that she would instead run for re-election.
Why did she abandon a race for the gubernatorial nomination many believed she could win?
Lisa Madigan explained that her father intends to remain as House speaker for the foreseeable future and that she didn't believe it would be appropriate to have a Gov. Madigan serving simultaneously with a Speaker Madigan.
If Daddy is not stepping aside for daughter, he's sure not planning to step aside to ease the political burden of Rosenberg and Ammons.
Rosenberg and Ammons didn't invent this political dodge. Incumbent Democratic state Rep. Naomi Jakobbson spouted the same drivel when asked if she would vote for Madigan as speaker in January 2013 if she was re-elected in November 2012. (She did.)
Her stock response was that she didn't know who would be running so she couldn't possible say. Of course, she knew he'd be running, and she knew she'd be voting for him, just as she had done for the past decade.
Madigan is a little too oily for local Democrats to publicly embrace during an election campaign. Once elected, they'll vote for him for speaker because not to do so would be to risk being turned into a political non-entity. It's a dilemma, but one Rosenberg and Ammons are avidly pursuing.
Given that they have freely chosen to do so, the least these two candidates can do is play straight with the voters.
Whether they want him or not, Madigan is the leader of the Democratic Party in the House. He'll command their votes if he needs them; for them to deny that reality is neither credible nor acceptable.