Which elective office is next for Attorney General Lisa Madigan? If history is any guide, probably none.
Although attorney general is a stepping stone to the Senate or the governorship in most states (there’s a joke that AG stands for “aspiring governor”), it’s been a political dead-end in Illinois. In 195 years, only one attorney general has been elected to another office in this state. That was Daniel Pope Cook, the first attorney general and the namesake of Cook County. Cook was appointed attorney general by the General Assembly and served for a few months in 1819. The next year, he was elected to Congress.
James McDougall, attorney general from 1843 to 1846, went on to become a congressman and a U.S. Senator -- after moving west to the new state of California.
The three attorneys general who preceded Madigan -- Neil Haritgan, Jim Ryan and Roland Burris -- all ran for governor and lost. (Burris became a U.S. Senator, but he was appointed by Gov. Rod Blagojevich, not elected.)
Madigan’s most likely career path is to a judgeship. Otto Kerner Sr., attorney general from 1933 to 1938, was appointed to the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals by Franklin D. Roosevelt. Latham Castle, attorney general from 1953 to 1959, was appointed to the same court by Dwight D. Eisenhower.
Richard Posner, the Seventh Circuit judge who wrote the opinion in Moore v. Madigan, striking down Illinois’ conceal carry law, is 74 years old. Everyone in Chicago would be thrilled if that crusty old Reagan apointee retires and devotes all his time to teaching law at the University of Chicago. Wouldn’t it be a wonderful irony if President Obama appointed Madigan to take his place?