Monday, March 26, 2012

Out of Michael Madigan's 13th Ward of Chicago

This column by Mark Brown of the Sun-Times was published the day after last week's primary. If I may say so, this is what I call a ground game:
There’s a saying in politics that signs don’t vote, but they usually help tell the story in a place like the 13th Ward, a longtime Democratic machine stronghold where Madigan has been the committeeman for more than four decades.

The final unofficial vote tally: 9,498 for Madigan; 2,125 for Piszczor.

Szykowny, 78, understands why those results might frustrate some people around Illinois who would like to see Madigan removed from his Speaker’s post but can’t find a way to get at him.

“As the Speaker, he hasn’t done much but get us in deeper in debt,” Szykowny complained to my surprise — dissenting voices being few and far between on Madigan’s home turf.

“But don’t get me wrong,” he hastened to add. “Madigan and his people have done us wonders around here. I’m not saying anybody else would have done any better.”

In the end, Szykowny said, he couldn’t bring himself to vote against Madigan.

“For one reason, it ain’t going to happen,” he said, referring to what he saw as a half-hearted campaign by Piszczor. “She hasn’t made enough waves to make a difference.”

Plus, Szyknowny added, he didn’t want to disappoint his precinct captains, who are always quick to help if he needs an extra garbage pickup or to have the alley baited for rats.
Aside from a two year break in the mid-1990s Madigan has been speaker of the Illinois state House since 1983 and is very much a very powerful figure in Illinois. People are frustrated with him because most of us don't get to elect him and he wields plenty of influence in this state.

Believe it or not while surely I would be at odds with him on a variety of issues he definitely has my respect. A lot of people may express frustration at the issues Illinois is facing, but often it seems he's the only adult at the table. That was especially the case during the years of Rod Blagojevich's governorship.

As for other aspects of his influence well, he runs a tight ship. It's certainly true for any legislative body in this nation, he's able to build a strong caucus. Thus if his tightly run ship means people look up to him for leadership then certainly other players in the state would have to listen to him.

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