Updated: July 3, 2013 6:37AM
Let’s pull out the crystal ball and examine why it looks like Attorney General Lisa Madigan is gearing up for a primary challenge to her party’s own incumbent governor. With a little help from her friends.
The burning question of her potential candidacy has always been whether Lisa can neutralize the Dad problem. Dad being, of course, House Speaker Michael Madigan, the most powerful and polarizing political figure in Illinois.
On that score, she has already begun. Most recently by making it clear she didn’t agree with Dad’s bill on conceal and carry. It was his original proposal that the NRA secretly liked but pretended to be neutral on. And that the attorney general didn’t agree with.
Speaker Madigan, who is nothing if not strategic, happily acknowledged this squabble with his independent-minded daughter.
Then there are pensions. Dad’s bill offered a one-size-fits-all reduction in benefits and increase in contributions. Labor hated it. They supported Senate President John Cullerton’s more liberal, less onerous proposal.
Where was Lisa on all of this? Well, as attorney general, she will have to defend the constitutionality of whatever passed out of the General Assembly, assuming anything at all did. Which it didn’t. (Take that, Pat Quinn.)
Lisa got to be Switzerland. A neutral party who can still offer labor more love than grief.
The real grief belongs to Gov. Quinn, who can crow about no signature victories. No pensions. No same sex-marriage. Nothing big and important. Nada.
Raising once again, the issue of his leadership in a state where his own party leaders control everything.
The AG has also been helped along by her husband’s timely pre-election publication about being a stay-at-home-and-work-at-home Dad. Cartoonist Pat Byrnes’ book sketches the domestic landscape of his and Lisa’s home life as a couple devoted to each other and their kids. They are a modern family. Who just happens to have a Mom gearing up for a run for governor, though the book doesn’t touch that subject.
Then again, hey, maybe I’m dead wrong. Maybe my crystal ball is more cloudy than clear. I’ve been wrong in the past, believing that Lisa Madigan was positioning herself for higher office before. I was in good company back then when the Obama White House believed it had successfully wooed her to run for U.S. Senate in the post-Blagojevich-let’s-quickly-get-rid-of-Roland-Burris days.
She didn’t go for it.
The attorney general opted for a more normal life, what with very young kids at home. And a job she clearly loved where she was her own boss and didn’t have to commute each week to Washington.
She could opt out this time, too.
But it looks like everything has been teed up for her run. With more than a little help from Dad.
What will Lisa do?
I think, this time, she runs.