You-know-who is running again
Illinois House Democrats can be expected to again embrace Chicago Democrat Michael Madigan's bid for another term as Speaker.
The bloom came off the rose pretty darn quick for state Rep.-elect Katie Stuart, a Glen Carbon Democrat who will be sworn in to office in January with the new Illinois General Assembly.
Less than two weeks after knocking off incumbent Republican Rep. Dwight Kay, her party's only pickup in the Illinois House, Stuart is already playing a deceitful games with the voters.
Asked if she intended to vote to re-elect House Speaker Michael Madigan, Stuart pretended to be flummoxed by the question.
"I don't know what the options will be," Stuart said. "You're asking me a hypothetical question just like I wouldn't tell you how I would vote on any piece of legislation until I actually read the legislation."
She asserts that a Madigan bid for the speakership, a position he has held for much of his 40-plus year tenure, is purely "hypothetical"?
That's not even close to being credible. If there's anything that's a certainty, it's that Madigan already has, is now or will be asking members of his Democratic caucus to support his bid for another two-year term as their boss. Further, he'll maintain the House rules, with the complicity of the Democratic caucus, that allow him complete control of what bills will be heard in committee and voted on by the full House.
Stuart knows that, just as sure as she knows that the Cubs won the World Series. So do other House Democrats, who, like Stuart, were elected in districts where a majority of their constituents don't cotton to Madigan's ruinous style of political governance.
That's why they evade questions on the subject with superficial, glib responses like, "I can't say whom I'm supporting because I don't know who's going to be running for speaker."
That's the talking point Democratic public-relations advisers tell House members to give if they're questioned by reporters or voters. It's shamefully false, but in politician-world, any answer that avoids an unpleasant subject is worth giving.
But here's the reality: Democrats will have a strong majority in the new House, 67-51. Madigan lost his supermajority of 71-47 after Republicans scored a net gain of four seats in the recent election. In the Senate, Democrats will maintain their supermajority, 37-22. That's down slightly from the previous 39-20 supermajority.
Both Madigan and Senate President John Cullerton will ask to be re-elected to their powerful leadership posts, and even caucus members who would prefer different leadership will be too scared to say no.
Each caucus has sufficiently large majorities that Madigan and Cullerton could allow a couple endangered members to cast a symbolic "no" vote. But Madigan has taken a dim view of such displays of disloyalty and independence in the past and imposed serious punishment.
Of course, Madigan knows from the last election that he's despised across the state. Being a practical politician, he might change his approach toward the empty symbolism of pointless opposition.
But one thing won't change: Madigan's running for re-election as speaker. He will maintain his vicelike grip on control of the legislative process and appears likely to continue to wage his bitter war with Gov. Bruce Rauner over the budget.
Everyone who's paying attention, including Stuart, knows that's what will happen. Voters ought not be fooled by the disingenuous tactics of those like Stuart who intend to support Madigan in Springfield but try to avoid acknowledging it when they're back in their home districts. It's a political misdirection play, nothing more and nothing less.