Ward Room
Covering Chicago's nine political influencers

Michael Madigan Unfazed by Illinois Voters' Hatred

The House Speaker says he's "not surprised" by the results of a poll showing he's far less popular than Gov. Pat Quinn

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Michael Madigan Unfazed by Illinois Voters' Hatred

If Michael "Mr. Congeniality" Madigan were on a reality TV show, he'd be the villainous cast member who says "I'm not here to make friends -- I'm here to win."

It's hardly shocking, then, that the Illinois state House Speaker and Chicago Democrat -- as power-hungry as he is reviled -- takes a blase attitude toward results of a recent Capitol Fax poll revealing that 65 percent of likely voters have a negative opinion of Madigan.

"Day in and day out, I’m always taking positions on controversial issues," said Madigan in response to the survey. "I’m not surprised the poll ratings would be low.”

One of those issues: his sponsorship of a bill to earmark $100 million in taxpayer money to fund the Obama presidential library -- and stake a claim for Chicago amid heavy competition. Madigan stirred up a mini-scandal earlier this month when he shrewdly passed the measure through the House Executive Committee during congressional Spring Break. No Republicans attended.

It was all just a "misunderstanding," he said later, reluctantly agreeing to a re-vote on the nine-figure grant. (The second hearing, scheduled for Wednesday, should be titled: "Obama Library-Gate, Act 2: Republican Revenge.)

Meanwhile, Crain's Chicago Business political columnist Greg Hinz reports an unnamed Chicago-based fundraiser as saying that private donors are being told to contribute $1 million for now and that requests to write bigger checks will come after the president leaves office.

Will that news be enough to make Madigan back off from his $100 million proposition? Not if his pride gets in the way.

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