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Brown: Lisa Madigan’s decision means more of the same in Springfield

So I suppose this means we’re stuck with Mike Madigan for at least another four years, if not ten.

That had always struck me as one of the benefits of a Lisa Madigan campaign for governor.

She moves up. To avoid the obvious conflict, her father finally moves out as House speaker, if only for her political benefit.

It seemed like a fair a trade-off. Sure, the dynasty continues, but we would get some new blood in state government. The Madigans would actually be giving up a degree of power in the process.

Certainly, nobody has ever figured out another way to loosen Speaker Madigan’s death grip on power other than to elect Republicans to the House of Representatives — an approach that has its own downside as was amply demonstrated the last time the GOP held a majority.

Now that Lisa Madigan has announced she will content herself with running again for attorney general, there’s nothing on the horizon to end her father’s reign.

Most people will be focused on what her withdrawal means to the governor’s race. I can’t help but think about what it means to the operations of state government. Status quo.

I respect Mike Madigan as the most capable, most accomplished legislator in Springfield. But he’s had so much power for so long that he doesn’t even feel the need to communicate with the public any more.

He can’t even be bothered going through the motions, such as when he snubbed Gov. Pat Quinn’s albeit silly attempt to call the legislative leaders together to talk pension reform immediately after the General Assembly adjourned having failed to pass any again.

Madigan is accountable only to his Democratic members, many of whom operate in fear of him and have no better idea of where he is leading them on most issues than I do.

When I mentioned in a column about his re-election last year that I was eager for him to ride off into the sunset so state government could “get a fresh start,” somebody challenged me about what I thought that “fresh start” would look like.

It was a fair question, and I still don’t have a good answer, but I’d like to find out.

For Lisa Madigan, this is definitely the right decision. If her father is determined to stay put, she shouldn’t run. The surprise is that she would offer an explanation. He never would.

I once thought she would have been guaranteed to win, but that’s no longer the case. Everything had been pointing in this direction for several weeks now.

If anything, the Metra controversy probably only solidified the Speaker’s determination to keep his job. He’s just not the kind of guy to let anybody, especially the news media, chase him off.

Neither will all the huffing and puffing in the world over the state’s pension problems, which he remains the best person to solve, if and when he’s willing.

Lisa Madigan says she still enjoys her job as attorney general, which is good, because her father appears to be very healthy.



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