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Daley vs. Madigan vs. Quinn leads to a Quinn Win in Three Leggged Race

Russ Stewart 4 February 2013 One Comment

The Chicago and Illinois media’s spin about a Daley-Madigan brawl for governor in 2014 is sheer, abject, absolute non-sense. Next year’s Democratic gubernatorial primary will be Daley-Madigan-Quinn, not a spat among Chicago’s First Families.


In fact, a three-candidate contest between former U.S. Commerce Secretary and ex-mayoral brother Bill Daley, state Attorney General Lisa Madigan, and incumbent governor Pat Quinn is Quinn’s only avenue to victory. And Illinois’ marginally popular “Governor Panderer” should not be counted out

A 2012 Public Policy Polling survey put Quinn’s approval/disapproval numbers at 40/43 percent among Democrats, and a lot lower among the whole electorate. A January We Ask America poll had Quinn at 37/42 among Democrats. Quinn is perceived as inept leader and hopeless vacillator. Any other governor, with that unpopularity, facing certain 2014 defeat, would be writing his retirement speech. Not Quinn. Whatever his shortcomings, which are legion, he is not a quitter, and he expertly panders to the Democratic base. A solid 35-40 percent of that base, which includes liberals, blacks, gays, Hispanics, those dependent on state government, and public sector unions, would be enough to enable Quinn to win a 3-candidate primary.

“He’s going to run” in 2014, said one Democratic strategist of Quinn. “Why should he quit? He’s the governor. He has a political base. He has name recognition. He has a reasonable amount of campaign cash. And,” the Democrat adds, “he has incredible luck. He stumbles to victory because his flawed opponents are easy to defeat.”

In 2010, Quinn won the Democratic primary against wooden and uncharismatic Dan Hynes, then state comptroller, 462,049-453,677, a margin of 8,372 votes. He then beat the too-conservative Republican nominee, Bill Brady, 1,745,219-1,713,385, a margin of 31,834 votes. Normally, the calculus of political success is right time, right place, right message. For the ubiquitous Quinn, a chronic campaigner who, over the past 30 years, has run for 6 offices, lost 4 times, and won 5 times, the ticket to success has been consistent: Right opponent. Quinn wins when his opponent is woefully flawed and incapable of prevailing; otherwise, he loses, as he did to George Ryan in 1994, Dick Durbin in 1996, and Mary Lou Kearns in 1998..

The We Ask America poll focused on the 2014 primary, and had fascinating results: In a one-on-one Madigan-Quinn race, he loses 50-25 percent, with a quarter of the vote undecided. In a Madigan-Quinn-Daley race, the results were 37-20-15 percent, with 28 percent undecided. In other words, Daley takes votes away from Madigan, whittling her down to the one-third threshold. The anti- or non-Quinn vote is in the realm of 75-80 percent.

If Madigan takes a pass, Daley, running as the ABQ – Anybody But Quinn – candidate would surely win. But if the primary is TAQ – Two Against Quinn – the governor is not eliminated. There are a lot of red flags. As the sitting attorney general, who has compiled a stellar civil prosecutorial record, and who was re-elected in 2010 with 64.7 percent, by a stupendous margin of 1,225,296 votes, Madigan should be a slam-dunk for governor in 2014. Likewise for Daley, who has credentials up the proverbial kazoo. But Madigan’s baggage is her father, Illinois House Speaker Mike Madigan. The perception is that two Madigans having too much power is too intolerable. As for Daley, the perception is that his candidacy is too little, too late; were he running when Big Brother was Chicago mayor, he’d have familial baggage, but also Chicago clout. Now he’s just another wannabe, a defrocked nobleman whose time has passed, who barely registers a sixth of the vote.

If three run, it will be like1983 – the infamous Byrne-Daley-Washington Chicago Democratic mayoral primary which led to Harold Washington’s 36.3 percent triumph, and to Rich Daley being ostracized as a spoiler. Bill Daley could be 2014’s spoiler.

2014 will be a “battle of the bases” – geographic, ideological, racial and gender. The overriding issue, given Illinois’ dire fiscal straits, will be competency and delivery. All three contenders are Chicagoans. Quinn will position himself as the populistic “real Democrat,” Madigan as the “most electable” Democrat, and Daley as the “most competent” Democrat. Platitudes and imagry will be paramount.

Quinn, despite his “Governor Jello” reputation, will be the implacable status quo, no-cuts, raise-taxes, spend- and borrow-more candidate. Quinn’s solution to the state’s crisis situation is to ignore it. $96 billion in unfunded pensions? Later. $5 billion in unpaid vendors? Borrow more. If that doesn’t suffice, raise taxes on the rich and on corporations. Quinn’s for gay marriage, driver’s licenses for illegal aliens, and maintaining, if not increasing, state spending for social services, because they’re all “essential.” And as for AFSCME- and SEIU-affiliated state workers, there will be no right-to-work, no pension cuts and no work rule changes.

Madigan got to where she is because of her surname and DNA, but she’s remained there because of her competence, not Big Daddy. Like Hillary Clinton nationally, Lisa Madigan would have enormous gender appeal, and run especially well among women in upscale suburban areas, and along Chicago’s Lakefront. Women cast a majority of the Democratic primary vote, but almost 60 percent of those women are black or Hispanic. Madigan has no especial appeal to minorities, and Big Daddy has virtually none.

Because of her office, but more likely because of her dad, Lisa Madigan has $3.3 million in her campaign account, and can easily raise the $5-7 million more she needs to run a savvy media campaign for governor.

In 2002, her one and only contested statewide primary, Madigan beat John Schmidt, 1998 gubernatorial candidate, onetime Daley chief-of-staff, and associate U.S. attorney general, 698,250-501,190 (64 percent), a margin of 197,060. She won Cook County by 134,182 votes, due to the muscle of Big Daddy, the Daley Machine, and the black wards. Next year, she stands on her record.

Daley, the youngest of the baby-boomer Daley Clan brothers, is a veritable Paladin: Have brains, will travel. He’s been a lawyer, investment banker, U.S. cabinet official and White House chief-of-staff. He is brainy, but soft-spoken, non-ideological and charisma-free. He engenders neither passion nor animosity. Anyplace but Chicago, Daley would be a Republican. Running as 2014’s “Mr. Fix-It,” he has appeal to Illinois’ 7.5 million registered voters, but not to half or more of the 1.2-2 million Democratic primary voters, who, like Quinn, want to perpetuate the current situation, not “fix” it. For them, a “fix” means less money in their pocket.

Daley’s problem: He and Lisa Madigan share the same base among anti-Quinn, non-black, pragmatically liberal, and Southwest Side Chicago voters. And the Daley name is no longer magic.

So he has a strategic quandary: Whom to attack? If he goes negative on Quinn, ripping his incompetence, he drives down Quinn’s support, but does not necessarily corral votes from Madigan. If he goes negative on Madigan, pounding on the precept that Illinois does not need two Governors Madigan, he splits the anti-Quinn vote, but shaves none from the governor.

The 2014 governor’s race is a win-lose situation for Quinn, a win-lose situation for Madigan, and a lose-lose situation for Daley. Quinn has nothing to lose, except his job. Madigan has everything to lose, especially her job, and if she wins, she (and Big Daddy) will have to raise taxes, risking his House majority. And Daley surely understands that, in the remote event that he is nominated, he will not be elected.

The 2010 primary is a template for 2014. Against Hynes, a Lakefront resident whose powerful father, Tom Hynes, was a longtime Daley ally and far Southwest Side 19th Ward boss. Quinn ran his usual dysfunctional, disorganized, underfunded campaign, but won 42 of 50 city wards, 165,283-154,277, in a 339,560 turnout. In ten Northwest Side wards, Quinn won 35,719-33,759. In six north Lakefront wards, Quinn won 23,518-19,059. In 20 black-majority wards, Quinn won 87,959-58,466, even though Hynes ran ads with audio and video footage of Washington calling Quinn, briefly city revenue director, “undisciplined” and his “worst mistake.” Black voters remember that Tom Hynes ran for mayor against Washington in 1987. As they say, “sins of the father….”

In 8 Hispanic-majority wards, Quinn won 15,616-13,575. In the Southwest Side 10th, 11th, 13th, 14th, 19th and 23rd wards, trending Hispanic, where the Daley/Madigan/Burke/Hynes/Lipinski machine dominates, Quinn lost 22,479-27,081, but won the 14th and 23rd wards. In 2014, the 13th (Mike Madigan) and 14th (Ed Burke) wards will back Lisa Madigan, and the 11th (John Daley), 19th (Matt O’Shea) and 23rd (Bill Lipinski) wards will back Bill Daley – splitting the anti-Quinn vote.

In Cook County’s suburbs, with majorities in black townships, Quinn won 138,971-109,898 (55.8 percent). Quinn took Cook County by 40,079 votes, narrowly won DuPage, Lake and Kane, but lost the collar counties and Downstate by 31,707 votes.

How does 2014 shake out? In 2010, following Rod Blagojevich’s impeachment, Quinn had a residue of goodwill. That’s dissipated. His governing style is inconsistent, almost non-existent. He gets no respect in the legislature. There is Quinn fatigue. But he’s a panderer extraordinaire, and has a 25-35 percent primary base. If Daley and Madigan both run, Quinn can win. If only one runs, Quinn is toast.

Russ Stewart is a Political Analyst for the Chicago Daily Observer
Email Russ@russstewart.com or visit his website at www.russstewart.com.

One Comment »

  • Ward Heeler said:

    Lisa Murray got where she is because of her mother’s DNA, not her father’s. Her mom divorced her first husband (Lisa’s father) and married Michael J. Madigan who adopted “Lisa Murray Madigan.”

    Lisa dropped her actual father’s name when she began to play politics.

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