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Editorial: Gov. Madigan: Lisa or Mike?

LisMadigan takes oath office for attorney general as her father House Speaker Michael Madigan D-Chicago looks Monday Jan. 13 2003

Lisa Madigan takes the oath of office for attorney general as her father, House Speaker Michael Madigan, D-Chicago, looks on Monday, Jan. 13, 2003, in Springfield, Ill. (AP Photo/The State Journal-Register, Michael Tercha)

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Updated: March 1, 2013 6:47AM

It’s a little rich when anybody named Daley in Illinois points out the possible conflict of interest when two members of a single family hold big political jobs at the same time.

The history of Chicago, Cook County, the State of Illinois and even the White House is of various Daleys — Richard J., Richard M., John and Bill — working in mutually beneficial public-sector jobs, elected or appointed. When Richard J. was mayor, son Richard M. was a state senator. When Richard M. was mayor, brother John was a county commissioner and brother Bill was, for a while, U.S. Secretary of Commerce.

That said, Bill Daley was only pointing out the obvious Thursday when he told Sun-Times City Hall reporter Fran Spielman that, yeah, Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan had better figure out what she’s going to say and do about her dad, Mike Madigan, if she decides to run for governor.

How could anybody believe that a Gov. Lisa Madigan is really running the show when Mike — the proud father who paved the way for her career — remains the powerful speaker of the House?

Mike Madigan would carry Lisa in Springfield the way Frank Sinatra carried Nancy when they sang “Somethin’ Stupid.”

Illinois would have itself a Gov. Madigan. But would it be Lisa or Mike?

Putting on our good government hat, we have to agree with those who say it would be best if Mike Madigan stepped down should Lisa run for governor. The executive and legislative branches of government are supposed to be separate and equal, one a check on the other. But somehow, we can’t imagine Speaker Madigan holding Gov. Madigan to the same tough standards he held Rod Blagojevich or, for that matter, holds Pat Quinn.

So, yep, that’s our view. It sure would be better that Mike step down.

But can we admit to impure thoughts here without being haunted by the ghost of squeaky clean politics, the late Sen.Paul Simon?

State government is a dysfunctional joke. Nothing important — certainly not desperately needed public employee pension reform — ever gets done. And so, let’s face it, there’s a certain appeal to the notion of a Gov. Lisa Madigan (who has been an effective public official in her own right) whipping the state into shape with the help of the ultimate enforcer, Dad.

We’re just saying.

Just how objectionable a Lisa-and-Mike tag team would be also depends on the alternatives — all those other folks who might run for governor. Nobody, including Lisa Madigan or Bill Daley, has announced their candidacy. Let’s see how the field shakes out.

That said, the notion of the two most powerful statewide offices in Illinois being held by a father and daughter beats out even the work of the Daley clan for the enthusiastic grabbing of political power. One reason Bill Daley never ran for governor, until possibly now, was because his brother was Chicago’s mayor.

If Lisa Madigan does run and her father declines to step down, they had better explain to everybody exactly how they would make that work.

Work for us, that is.

Not for them.

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