Rockford's Independent Newspaper

Incoming Illinois Dem won’t back Madigan

Anne Stava-Murray

By Greg Bishop
Illinois News Network

SPRINGFIELD –  In Illinois, next year’s legislative leaders are the same as this year’s, which is a cause of concern for some.

The Senate already chose legislative leaders ceremonially, and they will stay the same as they are now for both the majority Democrats and minority Republicans.

Senate President John Cullerton, D-Chicago, will continue in that post. Senate Minority Leader Bill Brady, R-Bloomington, also retains his position.

State Sen. Dave Syverson, R-Rockford, remains the Senate’s No. 2 Republican in the super-minority.

“The concern is there’s going to be a wide open door of new spending and new tax increases and the economic growth that Illinois is feeling right now, that could be stymied, and that’s a concern,” Syverson said.

Members of the Illinois House are expected to pick Michael Madigan, D-Chicago, for another historic term as speaker in a ceremonial vote next week. Madigan is already the longest serving state house speaker in the nation.

Both chambers will make their votes official when new members are seated in January.

State Rep.-elect Anne Stava-Murray, D-Naperville, said in a Facebook post earlier this year that she was disappointed Madigan was chosen to be the chairman of the state’s Democratic party again, a post he’s held since 1998.

Stava-Murray also said she refused “to sell out the voice of [her] district” to machine politics.

“Fear and intimidation are used by this machine to silence voices before they speak a word of dissent,” she wrote in the post. “I believe dissent is patriotic; we need change for IL and that change cannot be brought by Madigan as Chair of the party.”

“I will gladly face whatever consequences come my way as a result of speaking up; because the cost of staying silent is too great,” Stava-Murray said.

She beat the incumbent state Rep. David Olsen, a Republican, to win the House seat in her district. Since then, she has said she won’t Madigan for speaker when she’s seated in January.

“Some other reps are currently considering speaking out against bullying and voting ‘nay’ to Madigan and community support could help them commit sooner,” she wrote in another post last week.

In an interview Friday, she said it’s important to note that the trust issue cuts both ways in state government. She said “the thing that damaged my opponent was he was not in control of his own campaign.”

Stava-Murray said Olsen’s campaign was ran by the state’s Republican party. She said Olsen’s campaign wrongly protrayed her as a Madigan puppet and that voters in the district saw through it.

Stava-Murray wouldn’t be the first Democrat to buck Madigan.

State Rep. Scott Drury, D-Highland Park, voted “present” for speaker in January 2017. Drury subsequently didn’t receive an engraved desk clock touting Madigan’s lengthy tenure as speaker that all other House Democrats received.

Drury claimed the “present” vote also kept from being assigned any committee chair position. Not being assigned a chairmanship – which Madigan controls – meant Drury didn’t get the $10,326 stipend associated with that post.

In February, Drury called for Madigan’s resignation after a rash of harassment allegations inside Madigan’s operations.

“Speaker Madigan rules with an iron fist,” Drury said. “It’s his house. It’s his rules.”

In March, Drury claimed Madigan solicited campaign donations from him in exchange for advancing legislation Drury supported. Madigan’s spokesman denied the allegation.

State Rep. Greg Harris, D-Chicago, supports Madigan. He said Madigan has done much to propel progressive policies.

“When it comes down to it, we have a speaker who has guided us through expansion of Medicaid, who has protected collective bargaining rights, who has been a champion for pro-choice causes, who has helped pass gay marriage, who has done a lot of major things,” Harris said.

As to Stava-Murray’s expected abstention in supporting Madigan to be Speaker come January, Harris said that’s a decision each member has to make.

“Each person is going to have to look at their own situation and each promise that they’ve made,” Harris said.

With the exception of two years in the 1990s, Madigan has been speaker since 1983.

In recent years, Republicans, including Gov. Bruce Rauner, have blamed Madigan for many of the state’s problems.

Madigan not only manages the functions of the House, but he also determines the committees, who chairs the committees, including the Rule Committee, which acts as a traffic coordinator for legislation where many say bills go to die.

Outside of political circles and Madigan’s district, some voters have taken up the anti-Madigan call.

Jacksonville resident Kem Wilson is among those concerned about Madigan’s power in Illinois.

“Even if a bill comes before the floor that’s totally supported by, say unanimously Republicans and Democrats, but he doesn’t like it, it’s not heard,” Wilson said.

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