Longtime political observer says Madigan’s political power is waning

Longtime political observer says Madigan’s political power is waning

SPRINGFIELD, IL — Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan said he has significant support from members of the House Democratic caucus, but a longtime political observer said the speaker’s power could be waning.


“The decision on the next speaker of the Illinois House will be made at a caucus, after a full discussion of the issues facing our state and the qualifications of the candidates,” Madigan, D-Chicago, said in a statement on Friday. “I plan to be a candidate for speaker, and today I confirmed that I continue to have support from a significant number of House Democratic caucus members.”


But, a significant number may not be the majority necessary. Depending on the count, there are 17 or 18 House Democrats who have said they won’t support the speaker for another term.


Longtime politics observer Jim Nowlan served in the legislature with Madigan decades ago. He said from his count, Madigan has lost the necessary support to be the speaker at a crucial time for the state.


“I think Madigan is a dead man walking politically, and the big challenge of course now will be leadership and followership in what will probably be the most important legislative session in the history of the state of Illinois,” Nowlan told WMAY.


State Rep. Stephanie Kifowit, D-Oswego, has said she’s running for the spot.


State Rep. Jonathan Carroll, D-Northbrook, said he can’t support Madigan because he’s connected to “the type of politics all of us hate.”


“My decision is final and he has lost my support,” Carroll said in a statement. “While Madigan hasn’t been charged with a crime, individuals from his inner-circle aren’t so lucky.”


Last week, two former ComEd officials and two Madigan associates were charged with bribery conspiracy and other charges. The utility has admitted it paid $1.3 million in bribes over nine years to Madigan associates in an effort to influence the longtime speaker.


Despite that, Madigan still has support.


State Rep. Will Davis, D-Hazel Crest, told the Chicago Sun-Times he supports Madigan, and that he would seek the spot if Madigan ever relinquished the post.


Nowlan said Madigan could see other options.


“[House Majority Leader] Greg Harris, or another one of Madigan loyalists members of the House could serve as speaker and Madigan could pull the strings on that person, if he could,” Nowlan said.


It’s unclear when the Democrats will caucus. Lawmakers aren’t back for session until the second week of January before the new General Assembly is seated.

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