Two days after Illinois State Attorney General Lisa Madigan announced she would seek the Democratic nomination for governor in 2014, state political observers are increasingly pondering whether she feared a hard-punching nomination battle from former White House Chief of Staff Bill Daley.
The same observers are also beginning to speculate as to whether Madigan's decision will soon be followed by a similar "no-go" from incumbent Democratic Gov. Pat Quinn.
With polls showing the governor with record-low approval ratings amid the Prairie State's economic doldrums, it is inarguable Quinn would be an underdog to Daley, the brother and son of two longtime mayors of Chicago.
For now, however, Quinn still sounds like a candidate.
Quinn continues to lead in fundraising, and brought in more than $1 million for his campaign war chest in the last quarter.
Noting that much of his support comes from organized labor, the governor told the Chicago Tribune he was not a "champion of millionaires" — an obvious swipe at Daley, who has raised major dollars from the Pritzker hotelier family, New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, and other wealthy individuals.
In taking herself out of the race and announcing her bid for re-election as attorney general, the daughter of longtime state House Speaker Mike Madigan addressed the obvious: that she realized voters would not look kindly at two of the three branches of state government in the hands of the same family.
A few weeks ago, Daley released polls showing strong voter opposition to the idea of a "Governor Madigan" serving at the same time as "Speaker Madigan" and signaled he would use the issue in a primary. There was also speculation that Mike Madigan might step down as speaker if Lisa ran for governor.
"The albatross of Mike Madigan's speakership weighs so heavily around Lisa Madigan's neck that even the adoring media would ask the type of questions that could sink her gubernatorial run," said Hinsdale businessman Jim Nalepa, candidate for state GOP chairman and a supporter of state Sen. Kirk Dillard in the four-candidate Republican primary for governor.
"If anyone believed that Mike Madigan would step down as speaker of the Illinois House so as to clear the way for his daughter to become governor doesn't know Mike Madigan. There exists no more power-hungry despot in all the land. His iron-fisted absolute control of all things political in Illinois is an elixir that will keep him energized for years," said Nalepa.
John Gizzi is chief political columnist and White House correspondent for Newsmax
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