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The [Tuesday] Papers

State Democratic leaders re-elected Michael Madigan as party chair on Monday with just one no vote. He remains Illinois' King Democrat. He is the brand - even without Gov. Bruce Rauner's help.

Michael J. Madigan's Democratic Party of Illinois!

Emblazon it on coffee mugs, keychains, t-shirts and business cards. Make Democrats wear it, because they can't deny it. He is them. They are him.

Madigan isn't to blame for all the state's woes, as Rauner would have all of us believe. But he isn't a benevolent dictator, either. He's been a cancer on this state's politics - useful only in barring the door to an even worse governorship than we've already had under the current occupant.

In that role, he has led a united opposition that has kept party progressives in the fold instead of seeing them split off in panic about the disruption Rauner has brought - which was exactly what Rauner was hoping would happen. Instead, progressive-leaning legislators have backed Madigan instead of crumbling in the service of short-term relief from the crises wrought by a budget-standoff and liberation from their pharaoh.

But still, one might have hoped it was time to finally change the guard at the top of the party. After all, Madigan would still be Speaker of the House and a bulwark against Rauner's radical agenda should the governor somehow be re-elected. What a perfect time for Illinois Democrats to heal themselves, with Rauner's likely departure and a fresh start for all on the horizon. Revelations of Madigan's fumbling of sexual harassment in his organization also came at just the right time, politically, in presenting an additional reason to make a change.

Illinois Democrats don't want change, though. Not really. They like the way things are. They like having Michael Madigan on their side. The stink of his sleaziness wafting off him - and onto them - is just the price they don't mind paying to keep Michael Madigan's Magic Machine going.

And it is a Machine - an old-fashioned kind that ought to be in a museum but instead stands as a living, breathing tribute to Richard J. Daley's Democratic Party of old, with no separation between politics and governance. Madigan runs both the party and the General Assembly. He controls the jobs, he controls the money, he controls everything of consequence on his side of the aisle. There is nothing progressive about it. There is nothing liberal about it. There is nothing Democratic about. While Rauner's obsession with Madigan is incredibly counterproductive, it's not a lie to say that state Democrats more accurately practice a political philosophy called Madiganism than anything else. It is to him where their loyalties lie, above all else.

*

Rauner is no better, just worse at it than Madigan. It's almost as if Rauner aspires to be Madigan-like. It's almost as if he doth protest too much. Projection is a helluva psychology. After all, Rauner is essentially the Illinois Republican Party. He funds it and runs it, even if he's not nominally the chair. He controls the money and the machinery. But at least the radical right-wing has rebelled against the party to stand up for its beliefs, no matter how horrid those beliefs are. The state's left wing, barely existent as it is, just cowers - even at a moment when Madigan might have been vulnerable. Now was the time for demands! But just about the only thing that is progressive in this state is the branding adopted by Regular Democrats in certain wards and districts with constituencies that like to think of themselves that way without needing results. It's a nice coat to where, but one easily taken off when inconvenient, which is most of the time. Being a progressive in Illinois is like being a reformer - a practical marketing choice that even Madigan is tilting toward right now. Even Rahm Emanuel, who has made a career out of progressive-punching, has been rhetorically remade. (Remember, too, that it was Barack Obama who once called Todd Stroger a "good progressive" in trying to help push him across a campaign finish line.)

That's not to say those in the party with progressive leanings should never have gone into league with Madigan in the first place - it was wholly necessary in the General Assembly as an emergency measure to keep a united front against Rauner, lest we become Alabama. But it's another to keep Madigan in charge of the party machinery - with gusto! - and continually set aside his unsavory methods while highlighting the moral turpitude of Republicans.

*

"U.S. Rep. Robin Kelly of Matteson said she was surprised when Madigan asked if she would be among those who nominated him for the chairmanship at an afternoon meeting at a Springfield hotel," the Tribune reports.

Don't be surprised, Robin - you got the part! As a relatively progressive African-American woman, you were perfect for the role of Reassuring Supporter Expressing Concern That The Old Rich White Male Property Tax Appeals Attorney Has Everyone's Best Interests At Heart And Is Willing To Change. Oscar-worthy!

Save your surprise for the next time Madigan does something for the party or the people of Illinois that isn't just coincidentally in service of maintaining his power, because that'll be the first time.

*

"But Kelly said she was committed to doing all she could to ensure Democrats win in November, saying her time in Washington has proved the importance of being in the majority."

I know Madigan is known for his tactical brilliance, but I'm not sure he really has a good track record when it comes to gubernatorial races. Beyond that, a fresh face as chair of the state party might actually have done wonders for the Pritzker (D-Madigan) campaign and, yes, voters. Madigan would have remained House Speaker, so why not maximize his use there - for now - while reaping the benefits of a new chair who isn't only using the party for his own purposes and will actually build its infrastructure and help energize voters? (Pritzker himself has stated the truth that there really isn't much of a state party and he's intent on building one. This could've been a start, but maybe after the election?)

*

"Madigan won the support of 35 of the 36 committee members. Voting 'no' was Peter Janko of Marengo, who last month won a primary election for a spot on the panel of party leaders. Janko said he had nothing personal against Madigan - the two had lunch before Monday's meeting - but argued that the party needed 'fresh new blood, fresh ideas.'"

He's not wrong!

"Peter Janko is one of the many first timers that took up Sen. Bernie Sanders' call to run for office," a bio says. "A lifetime activist, Peter began working toward a better planet as far back as the 1970s. While still in his teens, he became involved in the civil rights movement, the Vietnam War protests, and the ecology movement (as it was known as back then). Peter is founder of Medicare for All Northern Illinois, an Our Revolution local chapter."

Peter Janko, you are Today's Best Person In Illinois.

*

Back to the Trib:

"Madigan said divisions in the Republican Party as conservative candidates challenge Rauner will only help Democrats win in the fall. Rauner narrowly won his primary election against Rep. Jeanne Ives of Wheaton, who built support by bashing the governor's signature of bills to expand taxpayer funding of abortion and protect immigrants in the country illegally. Last week, Sen. Sam McCann of central Illinois launched a third-party bid for governor with the goal of running under a new Conservative Party label.

"McCann received $50,000 from the International Union of Operating Engineers Local 150, which has fought against Rauner's efforts to weaken collective bargaining rights. The Madigan-aligned union endorsed Pritzker in the Democratic primary, and Rauner's campaign contends Madigan is behind McCann's bid in an effort to peel away support."

He's not wrong!

And while it might be a pleasing, even delicious move to many Democrats, it's still sleazy. Hell, Rauner ought to fund an independent who will peel voters away from Pritzker - and I mean someone better than Dock Walls! - and see how Democrats feel about that.

I know it's Illinois, but it's not cool no matter which side does it.

*

"On Monday, Madigan dismissed questions about whether he was involved in McCann's campaign."

What does "dismissed questions" mean? It doesn't sound the same as "denied" questions? Ignored? Waved reporters away?

For the answer to that, let's turn to Bernie Schoenburg of the Springfield State Journal-Register:

"Madigan also was asked if he's backing state Sen. Sam McCann, R-Plainview, in McCann's recently announced campaign for governor under the Conservative Party banner. Rauner's campaign says the 'Madigan machine' backs McCann.

"Madigan responded that Rauner's people 'ought to take a good look at themselves' and find something in the governor's record on which to base a campaign.

"'They never want to talk about their record on anything because they don't have any record that they would be proud to talk about,' Madigan said. 'So their method is to talk about other people, be critical of other people.'"

That's not a denial.

*

Schoenburg also reports that "Janko defeated an incumbent, Mark Guethle of North Aurora, in the March primary to get on the central committee. Janko was a supporter of U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont for president in the 2016 primaries and said he was wrongly painted during his campaign for the state central committee as being in league with Republicans."

Nothing in Illinois should surprise us, but Janko hardly looks like someone in league with Republicans.

Madigan, on the other hand, is in league with a Republican!

*

Also: Gee, I wonder who spread that smear around . . .

*

Madigan certainly knows which way the wind is blowing, though. I haven't listened to this yet, but he appeared on WCPT with Janko and Ben Joravsky yesterday, my god.

*

Danny Davis, you are almost Today's Worst Person In Illinois.

*

"Jesus 'Chuy' Garcia on Friday issued a glowing review of Mike Madigan as chair of the state Democratic Party - saying he is the 'clear choice' and 'will turn a statewide majority into progressive action.'"

Like he did before when he had a statewide majority?

*

"[I]t's not the first time the two have had each other's backs. Garcia in 2016 endorsed Madigan over a heavily-funded opponent. Garcia, who was named a Bernie Sanders national delegate, appeared in mailers endorsing Madigan."

And that wasn't even one of the opponents that Madigan usually puts up himself!

*

Detour into that last link: "Gonzales believes Madigan's longtime campaign foot soldier Shaw Decremer engineered the last-minute filings . . . "

That would be this Shaw Decremer.

*

And yet:

"As a progressive Democrat, it is my intention to support a state party chair who will work with me to advance our most fundamental goals," Garcia said in a statement released on Friday. "I will support a chair, who, above all, knows that our goal as a Democratic Party and as a progressive movement must be to build a broad coalition that can deliver this change. Michael Madigan is the clear choice."

To be clear, there is nothing progressive about Mike Madigan. But here's where Chuy really goes over the top in spit-take fashion:

"[Madigan] puts first the interests of the people of Illinois and the progressive principles of the Democratic party."

Nobody believes that. Nobody.

*

Chuy Garcia (D-Gutierrez), you are Today's Worst Person In Illinois.

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Change-Of-Address Scam Moved UPS Corporate Headquarters To Tiny Rogers Park Apartment, Feds Say.

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A sampling.

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The Beachwood Tronc Line: Forever young.



Permalink

Posted on April 24, 2018


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