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Bill Daley: No advice for Madigan, but I didn’t run because of brother


Lisa Madigan

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Updated: February 26, 2013 6:28AM

Bill Daley on Thursday essentially fired the opening shot against potential gubernatorial rival Lisa Madigan in what could be the “Clash of the Titans” of Illinois primaries.

Daley told the Chicago Sun-Times he didn’t want to come off as giving advice to the Madigans but said Lisa Madigan needs a “game plan” to answer questions about possible conflicts in running for the state’s top job while her father remains one of the most politically powerful men in Illinois.

Daley, a former White House chief of staff to President Barack Obama and Commerce Secretary under President Bill Clinton, said that his familial relationship with his brother, former Mayor Richard M. Daley, factored into his reasoning for not running for Illinois office in the past.

“It had to. The City of Chicago plays such a big part in the state, his persona as mayor for umpteen years would obviously be an issue, good or bad. I think the same thing applies to the [attorney] general,” Daley said. “I’m not giving them advice. I assume they would have to deal with that up front. She would be smart enough politically … She’d have to answer you guys when you say: ‘How does this work?’ Then the voters have to decide whether they buy it.”

Daley acknowledged the Madigan relationship raised more potential questions than his relationship with his brother, but he fell short of saying state House Speaker Michael Madigan should step down if his daughter were to run for governor.

“It’s obviously different than Rich, in that scenario. Because it’s right there, it’s Springfield. If the [attorney] general decided to run and won, obviously, it wouldn’t be a secret. She would have to have a game plan in how to address it.

“Then the voters would have to figure out [whether to accept it],” he said.

“I don’t think it’s a, you know, he’s the speaker, she can’t run. It’s a factor, obviously, that goes into consideration. It was to me.”

Neither Daley nor Lisa Madigan has committed to running for governor in 2014, but if they both do, it could mean a three-way primary between a sitting governor and members of two of the most powerful families in Illinois. Daley’s remarks are designed to try to frame the race early and highlight Madigan’s vulnerabilities.

For her part, Lisa Madigan wasn’t taking the bait, declining to directly respond to Daley.

“With the next statewide election nearly two years away, the attorney general is focused on her job,” Madigan spokeswoman Natalie Bauer said. “She has noted that she continues to consider how best to serve the public in the future, but any specific questions beyond that are premature.”

Steve Brown, Michael Madigan’s spokesman, wouldn’t directly respond either: “We’ll address that when and if it becomes appropriate, period.”

Daley, 64, has twice explored running for office in Illinois in the past and ultimately decided against it.

This time, Daley has taken on a more serious tone, perhaps with the realization that it could be now or never for public office. Asked if he had done polling, Daley said: “I do what you expect people to do in thinking about it and figuring out if you could add some value to the state.”

What if he were to beat Lisa Madigan and then have to deal with Michael Madigan?

“I’m sure he would love it!” Daley said. “I’m joking.”

Better Government Association Director Andy Shaw said it wasn’t up to the public to tell the Madigans how to handle the situation.

“It’s up to them to convince us they can handle it — that if she becomes governor, and he stays on as speaker they can work professionally on behalf of taxpayers,” Shaw said. “Mike Madigan is an old-fashioned Democratic machine politician, and proud of it. Lisa Madigan fancies herself a reformer. That’s not a recipe for a productive relationship between a governor and a speaker who have to work cooperatively on behalf of taxpayers, is it?

“Throw in the personal dynamics of a father-daughter relationship, and it’s even more complicated. But who knows? They’re smart, talented politicians, and maybe they can make it work.”

The threat of facing the politically popular Lisa Madigan in a primary race does not scare Daley, he said.

“If I get in the race, I’m in the race. I’m not going to worry about who I’m running against,” Daley said. “That’s not an issue for me.”

At the Democratic National Convention last year, Michael Madigan said he had no intention of retiring and, if his daughter were interested in a 2014 gubernatorial bid, nothing would stop her from aiming for the Executive Mansion while he is in control of the Illinois House.

“Why not?” he asked. “Why not?”

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