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Axelrod: Lisa Madigan has ‘genuine problem’ — her dad — if she plans a run for governor

Attorney General LisMadigan her father Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan.  |  Sun-Times file photo

Attorney General Lisa Madigan and her father, Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan. | Sun-Times file photo

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Updated: July 30, 2013 8:32AM



David Axelrod, the architect behind President Barack Obama’s political ascent, said Thursday that Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan has a “genuine problem” if she intends to run for governor and her father remained in his post as the powerful Illinois House Speaker.

Axelrod, who was speaking before the City Club of Chicago on Thursday, told the Chicago Sun-Times that if he were advising Lisa Madigan, he would tell her that her father’s position is an “issue” she needs to resolve if she wants to be Illinois’ chief executive.

His remarks followed a campaign poll released last week by the campaign of Bill Daley – her potential opponent — that showed 600 possible general election voters initially chose Lisa Madigan over Republican Dan Rutherford for governor by 11 percentage points.

Once those surveyed were asked about the familial relationship between Lisa Madigan and her father, Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan, Rutherford and Lisa Madigan were in a dead heat. For her part, Lisa Madigan has not announced her candidacy for governor but her $4.3 million campaign fund grows by the day. Since the beginning of the year, she has publicly maintained that she has a strong interest in a run.

Axelrod, a onetime top adviser to Obama who has long been known as a premier political strategist, said he doesn’t have a dog in this fight – “I’m out of campaigns” — and is personal friends with all three possible Democratic contenders for governor — including former U.S. Commerce Secretary Bill Daley and Gov. Pat Quinn.

Axelrod now runs the Institute of Politics out of the University of Chicago.

“I think Lisa is a tremendous public official. I have a maximum high regard for her,” he said. “I think this is a genuine problem. I think it’s one she has to resolve before she makes a decision.”

How she resolves it is between her and her father, he said.

“I think as talented and as strong a candidate as she is, it’s going to be hard to make the case that the governor and the Speaker of the House can be father and daughter . . . particularly when the Speaker is as powerful as this Speaker is,” he said. “People want the branches of government to be independent. No matter what your intentions, it’s going to be very hard for them to persuade people that’s going to be the case. I think it’s an issue for her to resolve. I’m sure there are many reasons for her to consider running but this seems like an issue for her to resolve.”

Axelrod said it would be politically smart for the Madigans to explain to voters what would happen with Michael Madigan’s position as House Speaker should Lisa Madigan be elected.

“I think that’s very hard, I really think that’s really hard,” Axelrod said. “I say that without a trace of animus at all. I really admire her, I like her, she’s a great person and great political official.”

Appearing Thursday on a panel hosted by Emily’s List - the organization that backs pro-choice female Democrats running for public office - Lisa Madigan, when asked by a reporter if her father would have to step down if she ran for governor, was unequivocal in her response.

He wouldn’t have to. He wouldn’t have to step down,” she said emphatically at the afternoon event at Willis Tower.

Asked then if he should step down, she said she doesn’t give her father advice.

Contributing: Maudlyne Ihejirika



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