Kadner: Colvin leaving House for VP job with ComEd
Phil Kadner firstname.lastname@example.org | (708) 633-6787 March 27, 2012 9:14PM
Updated: April 29, 2012 8:08AM
The revolving door in Springfield keeps spinning state legislators into golden jobs in the private sector.
State Rep. Marlow Colvin (D-Chicago) has announced he will resign from his seat in the House to take a job as vice president of legislative and external affairs for ComEd.
The timing of the announcement, only a week after Colvin won a primary election in which he was unopposed, seemed strange to me.
During a telephone conversation, Colvin told me he had been in negotiations with ComEd since December but the details of his employment weren’t hammered out until now.
That likely means the 8th Ward Democratic committeewoman, Michelle Harris, will name someone to replace Colvin for the remainder of his current term and a candidate to replace him on the November ballot.
Coincidentally, former State Rep. Kevin McCarthy (D-Orland Park) stunned his supporters by resigning in December, only to become a Springfield lobbyist for ComEd after the Legislature passed a bill allowing ComEd to build a multibillion-dollar smart grid system.
When I suggested to Colvin that to voters it appeared as if state lawmakers were selling out, he responded with righteous indignation.
“I have represented my district with honor and integrity for 11 years,” Colvin said. “I don’t know how anyone could say I’ve sold out.”
Colvin is respected in Springfield, where he is considered a leader and one of the brightest members of the House.
Many suburban residents may be unfamiliar with Colvin’s name, since his House district encompassed the Southeast Side of the city, but a legislative remap had given him a chunk of the south suburbs beginning in November. The new 33rd House District includes all or parts of Burnham, Calumet City, Lansing, Lynwood and Sauk Village, along with a sliver of Ford Heights.
Colvin has been meeting with south suburban mayors for at least a year in anticipation that his district’s boundaries would be expanded. Several told me they were looking forward to his representation of the area.
“He was the pick of the litter,” said Glenwood Mayor Kerry Durkin, who said he was looking forward to Colvin representing the south suburbs, even though Glenwood does not fall within the boundaries of Colvin’s new district.
“He was a visionary, in my opinion,” Durkin continued. “For example, everyone’s talking about a casino for the south suburbs, but he told me that the south suburbs ought to demand the same thing as Chicago, ownership of a casino.
“Instead of settling for a small share of the casino revenues as a host community, he said the south suburbs should act in unison, form an ownership group and then find the best location in the area for a casino instead of competing with each other.”
Lynwood Mayor Eugene Williams said he was “stunned” to hear that Colvin was resigning, “because I had nothing but good impressions from the meetings I had with him.
“He seemed very intelligent, and I guess this just shows that good guys with talents are recognized and get other opportunities.”
I wish I could see this “opportunity” as just good things happening to good people, but given the political culture in Illinois, I was surprised that Williams took such a magnanimous view of this development.
At the very least, it seems to me that Democratic voters were deprived of an opportunity to select a person to represent them in the November general election.
Colvin said this probably would be his last week serving in the House and that he would officially resign sometime next week.
Democratic committeemen will now meet and hold two votes. In the first, by weighted vote based on the turnout in the gubernatorial election in the old 33rd House District, Chicago ward committeemen will select a person to serve out the unexpired portion of Colvin’s term.
Then Democratic committeemen in the Chicago wards and suburban townships in the newly configured district will select someone to run in the November general election based on weighted votes from the primary.
The same person could be named Colvin’s replacement in the House and the party’s candidate in November.
Capitol Fax, an authoritative newsletter on Springfield politics, is reporting that Marcus Evans, an administrative assistant to Harris (who also serves as the 8th Ward alderwoman), “will get the nod.”
Evans is 27 years old, according to Capitol Fax.
A bill has been submitted to a Senate committee that would prevent lawmakers from taking jobs, or lobbying for companies that do business with the state, for one year after leaving office.
But party leaders won’t even allow their members to vote on the measure on the Senate floor.
On Tuesday, I suggested a “for sale” sign be placed on the Capitol Building lawn.
Maybe that sign should read “sold.”