Lisa Madigan has been in Washington this week, trying to enlist the support of women’s and environmental groups in her run for governor next year.
During a trip to the nation’s capital, Madigan discussed a possible campaign with strategists for the League of Conservation Voters, the prominent environmental group; and EMILY’s List, the group dedicated to electing Democratic women who support abortion rights, according to sources familiar with the conversations.
“She’s leaning heavily toward a run and was doing rounds to build relationships and gauge potential support,” one source said of Madigan.
Madigan could be a high-value commodity for Democrats in 2014, provided that she can smoothly navigate a nomination fight with Quinn. If elected, she’d be her state’s first female governor and would likely make Illinois the largest U.S. state with a woman as governor.
There is currently just one female Democratic governor, Maggie Hassan of New Hampshire, and national Democrats have called it a priority to put more women in high office.
“Flying from Pittsburgh to Philly visiting our [EMILY’s List] members – current and new – talking about electing more women governors,” EMILY’s List president Stephanie Schriock tweeted Thursday.
There are currently five woman serving as governors. Ten years ago, there were eight. On her Felsenthal Files blog, Chicago magazine’s Carol Felsenthal talked to failed gubernatorial candidate Judy Baar Topinka about why it’s so difficult for women to achieve an executive position:
I asked Topinka why she and Netsch, with whom Topinka served in the state Senate and remembered as “awesome and brilliant,” weren’t able to win their races for governor. “The boys still don’t want us,” Topinka said. “In their minds it’s still, 'Women don’t do these things. Politics is a man’s job.' Suits like to look at other suits and our suits don’t look like their suits…. The guys weren’t there for me. I wasn’t a member of their club.”
Madigan has spent so many years building a power image, few voters will hold it against her that she’s a woman. They might hold it against her that she’s the House speaker’s daughter, though. When Madigan announces she’s running, she should bring her father to the press conference -- to announce he’s not running for re-election to his House seat.