Friday, December 23, 2005

Speaker Mike Madigan: Blagojevich's Best Friend, Today

Revised slightly at noon on Friday, including the addition of a link to a five minute Eisendrath video interview.

Have you noticed the generally negative tone of Rich Miller of Capitolfax fame regarding the Candidacy of Ed Eisendrath for Illinois Governor in the Democratic Primary [you can find all of the below Capitolfax references by scrolling through the Capitolfax blog [See here] posts for this week][See here to watch a video interview with Edwin Eisendrath]?

First there was this:

Only a hundred people at his [Eisendrath’s] announcement of his candidacy this past Sunday.

--Well, for one, he didn’t have armies of government employees available to push his attendance numbers up, and he didn’t have labor that was bought off, etc, like some candidates. Anyway, the election won't be won or lost on that stuff.

Second, there was this:

Edwin didn’t return columnist Aaron Chamber’s phone call.

--Oh migod. Really, Rich? Quick, lift the moratorium on the death penalty. Execute Ed. Can you imagine that? Ed didn’t respond to a phone call from the media. And a media member, to boot, who used to room with Rich Miller. Wow!

Third, there was this:

--Just awful. He pretty much refused to speak [to the media] in specificity about anything from his political support to his personal financial commitment to his positions on any number of policy issues

Oh migod. Can you imagine that? A newcomer candidate for Gov who may not have a definitive answer for every question the press can throw at him? Isn’t that just awful? Of course, nobody in the MSM comments on the contrast to Rod, who would not be allowed to face the media if he didn’t have a prepackaged answer.

Fourth, there was this:

--And what’s with the “Edwin” stuff? It’s all over his website. Sounds a little too snooty to my ears. Doesn’t anyone ever call him “Ed”? [Even Eric Zorn took a swipe at Eisendrath for this].

Actually, I do [call him Ed]. One of the first things he said to me, when I asked, was, Ed or Edwin, whatever you like. So, I alternate. Moreover, before and after he became President in 1960, they didn’t call him John or Johnnie. Maybe Jack. But, often it was John Fitzgerald Kennedy, or JFK. Sound a little Snooty to you, Rich? I didn’t think so.

Fifth, there was this. [Rich, when you are dipping into Sneed, you know you are in trouble].

---This Sneed bit is somewhat telling: Dem gubernatorial hopeful Edwin Eisendrath carried an appropriate totem when he announced his candidacy against incumbent Gov. Blagojevich: a silver bookmark engraved with the Winston Churchill quote, “Never, never, never give up.” So, instead of a silver spoon, he’s got a silver bookmark, remarks Rich Miller.

Yeah, that’s really terrible, Rich. A guy who likes Winston Churchill and who has a silver bookmark? Worse, he even reads books? Talk to Chris Matthews, a man of the people and he is in love with Winston, and Chris reads books, too. Indeed, he even writes a few.

Sixth, there was this.

One item in Rich’s blog kind of for Ed and from my good friend [if not ex-roommate] and ace political analyst at IRN, Jim Anderson:

In my opinion, Rod has solid support to win the Democratic primary in about the 70 percent range, meaning Eisendrath would still get close to 400,000 votes — a lot for a late-starting campaign for a guy with no name recognition, but not nearly enough to beat the Rodster.

Seventh, and finally, we get to the apparent source of Rich’s angst. Let’s hope Dem gubernatorial hopeful Edwin Eisendrath’s good-luck Winston Churchill charm does its job.

*Translation: Sneed sources claim minions for Dem state party chief Michael Madigan were scouring Eisendrath’s nominating petitions filed with the state election board to see if they can find a legal reason to end his bid for the state’s top job.

Now comes the commentary by the host of this blog.

First, everybody knows that when it comes to keeping up with and knowing various facts, rumor and innuendo on Illinois’ 177 General Assembly seats and a bunch of other state and local political issues, Rich Miller’s Capitolfax hard copy and blog are indispensable reading.

On the other hand, when it comes to analysis, some suggest Rich has a bias or two.
For example,
if you want to know what Speaker Mike Madigan wants on important matters, it has been suggested-- look to Capitolfax’s drift.

What outcome does Speaker Mike want in the Gubernatorial election? Yes, we know he is Co-Chairman of Hot Rod’s campaign. But, really, what does he want?

Well, we are told he has two primary goals in life [and not necessarily in this order]: Keep the Illinois House Democratic so he can stay Speaker and keep moving his daughter, AG Lisa Madigan, up the political ladder, or more precisely, do what he can to assist her upward mobility. Admittedly, she has a lot of her own talent, smarts, integrity and political finesse [much of which she learned in her teenage years from watching Speaker Mike, up close, in Springfield].

But Speaker Mike didn’t hurt Lisa’s chances when she sought to became a state senator. Indeed, Party Leader Speaker Mike made sure Lisa got the best political tutoring for the kind of pol she wanted to be, even including some tutoring from independent Dems, an image Lisa fancies.

Nor did Speaker Mike hurt her chances when Lisa sought to become AG. First, Speaker Mike sought to clear the field in the Democratic Primary by sending the more experienced and more accomplished State Rep. Tom Dart out of the AG race and into a losing race for State Treasurer. I am sure Speaker Mike made Tom an offer he couldn’t refuse [like some day he would help him become Cook County Sheriff].

Lisa then pitted her four years of legal experience against three decades or so of the private practice and No. 3 in the USDOJ experience of John Schmidt in the Democratic Primary. After beating Schmidt handily, Lisa took on, in 2002, the two decades of prosecutorial [although some would argue Necarico case tarnished] experience of DuPage County State’s Attorney Joe Birkett in the General Election, and she won by three points in a hotly contested race.

In that AG general election race, Rich Miller, in his Capitolfax, made a cottage industry out of trashing Birkett and cheerleading for Lisa. Some would argue the merits of the race dictated that. Some would argue otherwise.

Lisa Madigan's next political pit stop is Illinois Governor. Speaker Mike thinks Rod has done a terrible job as Governor and in four more years, Blagojevich will crash and burn. Of course, the Speaker is confident that the Republicans can’t beat even a badly damaged Rod, so long as he is not indicted, and the Speaker is betting that won’t happen, at least not this year or next year.

Thus, as Speaker Mike sees it, Lisa is in line to become Governor in 2010, when things are going so badly for Rod, that he slinks away in disgrace. And then, in 2016, maybe, well, you know.

But, this guy Eisendrath, if Rod should get indicted next year before the Primary, Eisendraft would be there to pick up the pieces. That is, Speaker Mike, as Chairman of the Illinois Democratic Party, couldn’t use that power to send in his sub and daughter, Lisa.

And, what if Eisendrath, the Anti-Rod, as in anti-Christ, took off in the polls and then beat Rod. You know, substance, reform, honesty, integrity, downstate, etc. It could just work. Then Ed or Edwin, you choose, becomes the Democrat nominee for Governor and he easily beats the Republicans, thinks Speaker Mike.

And then what happens to Lisa? Her progress to Governor and beyond is impeded. And Speaker Mike spends his golden years living a shattered dream. Ok, that is a lot of ifs and maybes. But, still, why take a chance, says Speaker Mike. He says, check those petitions with a fine toothcomb. And, he tells his cooperating Illinois Major Media [as Senator Durbin would put it], please write that stuff about Ed and Edwin; silver book marks and not returning phone calls and all that other ridiculous crap and who knows, some of that might stick.

Now, look, I am not here to shill for Edwin or anybody. I will interview him for the second time this Tuesday night, and he may look bad or good to my viewers. I don’t know how it will come out. As my good friend and mediameister for the Governor, Pete Giangreco, reminds me, from time to time, we don’t know- that’s why we play the game, to find out "how it does come out."

But, one thing I do know. This is the second videotaped interview I got with Edwin Eisendrath in the last month, which is two more than I got with Governor Blagojevich since he won the Primary in 2002 and two more than I ever got with AG Lisa Madigan. Moreover, Gov. Blagojevich was invited to join Ed Eisendrath at the taping of our show this coming Tuesday and we were told the Governor's schedule wouldn’t permit it, but he will try another time. Yep, we’ll see. Meanwhile, we are taping Democrat Guv Candidate Eisendrath this Tuesday night [Please send your suggested questions and topics to my email, below. As usual, that is not for attribution unless you indicate you prefer that]

Now, that is something to which "Senator Durbin's major media groupies," might want to give some thought. How many times have Governor Rod Blagojevich, Attorney General Lisa Madigan and Speaker Mike Madigan subjected themselves to a tough half hour of substantive questioning by a single interviewer [with lots of follow-ups] in the last four years? Or, indeed, how many times has Senator Durbin subjected himself to tough, unmanaged, unscripted questioning at a press conference, or otherwise, over the course of his career? [See here]. I think I know the answers. Do you?

So, I am not saying anything about Capitolfax, Rich Miller, AG Lisa Madigan or Speaker Mike. Really, I am not. Because, I would never engage in rumor and innuendo.

But, I am just saying. When you think about it, it seems a little strange, doesn’t it? But, I am not saying. Really, I’m not.
Jeff Berkowitz, Host and Producer of Public Affairs and an Executive Recruiter doing Legal Search, can be reached at