Ward Room
Covering Chicago's nine political influencers

You Can't Have Lisa Madigan. Or Can You?

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You Can't Have Lisa Madigan. Or Can You?
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We’re pining away for Lisa.

A year ago at this time, Lisa Madigan was the Democratic Party’s best hope for holding onto Barack Obama’s old Senate seat. Rahm Emanuel even invited her to the White House, where he attempted to browbeat her into running.

“She’s the most popular political figure in Illinois,” Emanuel said then.

Madigan -- who is raising two young daughters with her stay-at-home cartoonist husband -- declined Emanuel’s invitation to Washington. As a result, she is still the most popular political figure in Illinois.

According to a new Public Policy Polling survey, 49 percent of voters have a favorable opinion of Madigan. That’s better than Pat Quinn (25 percent) and Alexi Giannoulias (21 percent) combined. Madigan could run for governor and senator at the same time, and do better than both her party’s nominees.

“It seems safe to say that Madigan would be well ahead if she had chosen to run for one of these offices, and that her presence at the top of the ticket would be helping Democrats across the board,” PPP says. “But there’s not much point in thinking about what might have been -- unless Alexi Giannoulias’ situation gets so untenable he has to drop out, in which case it seems a safe bet Madigan will again be at the top of the list for Democratic leaders as they seek a replacement.”

(Maybe her dad is already trying to engineer that. The other day, he was asked if the problems at Broadway Bank would hurt Giannoulias. His response: “I’m glad I don’t have any deposits there.”)

Madigan is a popular politician because she’s not involved in a hot political race. As an incumbent attorney general cruising toward an easy re-election, she’s using her office to warn seniors about fraud and distribute tips on avoiding identity theft. As a Senate candidate, she’d have to actively defend President Obama’s health care plan, instead of simply declining to join a lawsuit to strike it down. As a candidate for governor, she would have to deal with justifiable outrage over a single family controlling the legislature and the governor’s mansion.

Also, Madigan looks awfully fetching compared to Pat Quinn and Alexi Giannoulias, who are turning out to be hapless hacks.

Why do we love Lisa? Because we can’t have her.

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