Ward Room
Covering Chicago's nine political influencers

Madigan: The Woman Who Could Beat Both the Boys

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    NEWSLETTERS

    When Michael Madigan decided to get his daughter elected attorney general of Illinois, it was, oh how do you say ... obviously nepotistic.

    So, what if Madigan decides Lisa is ready for an even bigger job, mayor of Chicago? During an interview with the Chicago Tribune, Madigan “refused to say she would complete her third term if she is re-elected in November, leaving the door open for a run for Chicago mayor.”

    Today, mayor of Chicago and speaker of the state house are the two most powerful jobs in Illinois. Putting a Madigan in both offices would provide the family with a power base not even the Daleys had. Both Richard Sr. and Richard Jr. were often thwarted by legislators who were outside the control of the Cook County Democratic Party. Would voters be comfortable concentrating so much clout in a single Irish clan? Mike Madigan might have to promise to retire after the 2012 elections.

    Madigan was a popular choice for Barack Obama’s old U.S. Senate seat, but she passed on that, because she has two young children. That wouldn’t be an issue with the mayoralty, which would keep her even closer to home than her current job.

    If Madigan does decide to run, her candidacy would hurt both Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart and White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel. While the Darts and the Madigans are no fans of each other, Tom and Lisa have similar profiles: youthful, progressive Democrats with roots on the Irish Southwest Side. (Madigan wasn’t born Irish, but she became Irish when her mother married Michael Madigan and she moved from Lake View to West Lawn.) The 13th Ward, which would presumably be well-disposed to Dart, would vote overwhelmingly for Madigan.

    Of course, Madigan now lives in Rahm Emanuel’s congressional district. She represented the neighborhood herself, as a state senator. Like Emanuel, she’d also be very appealing to the neighborhood’s young professionals -- especially young women. If Madigan got into the race, the big three of Dart, Emanuel and State Sen. James Meeks would become the big four. Only one white candidate would survive for the runoff. With bases on the North Side and the South Side, Madigan would tough.

    Madigan is such a popular politician because she’s all potential. We all assume that she’s been biding her time in the attorney general’s office, waiting for a bigger opportunity. Did she pass up a U.S. Senate seat to become mayor of Chicago? Probably not. Keep waiting, AG.