For quite a while, it looked like Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan was going to run for governor. When she declined and decided to run for a fourth AG term, it started a domino effect within the Illinois Statehouse. This "Lisa Madigan effect” will definitely impact the Illinois General Assembly and may re-shape the executive branch of Illinois government with State Representative and House Minority Leader Tom Cross (R-Oswego) announcing this week that he was leaving his legislative leadership post to run for the Office of Treasurer of the State of Illinois.
The Lisa Madigan effect is vast. When it looked like Madigan was going to run for governor, it looked like her candidacy would prevent William Daley from running for governor. When she said she was going to try to keep her AG position, Daley jumped in to run against sitting Governor Pat Quinn. That also quelled the rampant speculation that Illinois Lieutenant Governor Sheila Simon, Tom Cross and State Senator Kwame Raoul were going to run for AG. Now Simon is vying for Illinois Comptroller Judy Baar Topinka’s job, Cross is trying to replace Illinois Treasurer Dan Rutherford (who is running for governor) and there is a possibility that Raoul may declare his candidacy for governor next week.
The Lisa Madigan effect is powerful. She did sort of the same thing in 2009 when she was being courted by the national Democratic Party to run for President Barack Obama’s U.S. Senate seat that is currently held by Mark Kirk. Until she made her decision, it impacted that race and the Illinois gubernatorial race. No one wanted to face her.
Cross’ decision has greater impact. With Cross requesting a transition within his party to find a new person to head the GOP side of the Illinois House, it may usher in a new era in Illinois politics. Michael Madigan (D-Chicago) has held the Speaker of the House position for 29 of the last 31 years. The only blip was when Lee Daniels led a Republican takeover of the House from 1995 to 1996. Possibly candidates to replace Cross and possibly the next Daniels are Jim Durkin (Western Springs), Dwight Kay (Glen Carbon) and Raymond Poe (Springfield).
Cross will be replaced in the leadership, but the possibility of the Republicans retaking the House in the next election sequence is doubtful. Democrats hold a veto-proof majority of 71 to 47 seats. But, if Topinka can hold her office, Cross replaces Rutherford and a Quinn/Daley/Raoul primary gets so ugly that the winner is critically damaged and lets a Republican in the governor’s mansion, the GOP may have a shot at replacing Lisa Madigan’s father in 2016.