(The Center Square) – While his grip on power has slipped, former Illinois House Speaker and state Rep. Michael Madigan will still have some influence.
Madigan, D-Chicago, resigned his seat in the Illinois House Thursday. He’d been there since 1971. He’d been Speaker of the House for all but two years since 1983 until last month.
Kent Redfield, longtime politics observer, said Madigan had a nexus of power for years in being Speaker and controlling what legislation advanced while also controlling major political funds for the state’s Democrats.
“Part of the basis of his power has always been him raising money and then distributing it in terms of supporting candidates,” Redifled said.
While he was Speaker, Madigan controlled the Democratic Party of Illinois fund, the Democratic Majority fund, the 13th Ward Democratic Org fund and the Friends of Michael J Madigan fund. Before the November General Election, there was a total of $22 million in the funds.
Last month, Madigan lost control of the Democratic Majority fund when he wasn’t re-elected Speaker. Redfield expects he could be transitioned out from controlling other funds now he’s no longer a state lawmaker.
“Now that Madigan no longer has control of the legislative process and no longer is going to be the conduit of money coming in from the big Democratic groups, I think there’s going to be a sense of moving on from him,” Redfield said.
Breaking up that concentration of power, Reform For Illinois Executive Director Alisa Kaplan said, is good.
“And what that means for including a diversity of voices and also a culture of accountability rather than just a culture of loyalty to just one single person,” Kaplan said.
Madigan is likely to maintain control of the Friends of Michael J Madigan fund, where Kaplan said there’s $13 million.
“Depending on how he uses that, he’ll still be able to have quite a significant hand in the power politics of Illinois until that money runs out,” Kaplan said.
Madigan is also expected to play a crucial role in selecting his replacement as Democratic party officials, not voters, will select who fills the seat he’s held for 50 years.
Party officials are taking applications from people interested in filling the vacancy from Madigan’s resignation. An event planned Sunday morning at the Balzekas Museum ballroom is scheduled for anyone interested in seeking the position to take questions from constituents.