The Illinois Republican Party launched a website on the same day House Speaker Mike Madigan (D-Chicago) again skipped a meeting with Gov. Bruce Rauner and legislative leaders in Springfield.
The website — www.BossMadigan.com — will highlight the ongoing cronyism and partisan politics that are holding Illinois back.
The website features legislators, both old and new, who are linked to Madigan. The GOP implemented the strategy of exposing the links between the Democratic lawmakers and Madigan's political web of power in 2016. It was a successful effort that led to a Republican gain of six seats in the state House and Senate in last month's general election.
One of the first items on the agenda after the lawmakers are sworn into office in January is the selection of the speaker of the House. Madigan has held that position for 31 of his 45 years as a representative. As the speaker, he controls the House, including selecting the bills sent to committee and those brought to the floor for a vote.
Madigan also has served as chairman of the Illinois Democratic Party for nearly 20 years. He controls the party's finances and determines which candidates will receive campaign contributions.
While Republican lawmakers oppose Madigan's reelection as House speaker, some of their Democratic colleagues have waffled on the upcoming vote. Newly elected Rep. Katie Stuart (D-Glen Carbon) was questioned by the News-Gazette on her stance on Madigan as speaker. She ducked the issue.
"I don’t know what the options will be," Stuart told the News-Gazette. "You’re asking me a hypothetical question just like I wouldn’t tell you how I would vote on any piece of legislation until I actually read the legislation."
The News-Gazette was highly skeptical.
"That’s not even close to being credible," the News-Gazette editorial said. "If there’s anything that’s a certainty, it’s that Madigan already has, is now or will be asking members of his Democratic caucus to support his bid for another two-year term as their boss.”
State Rep. Dan Beiser (D-Alton) also benefited from Madigan's support during the 2016 campaign, to the tune of more than $700,000. During his time in the House, Beiser supported Madigan as speaker six times. Beiser also supported Madigan's unbalanced budget that would have eventually resulted in tax hikes for Illinois taxpayers.
The third lawmaker featured in the website rollout was state Rep. Stephanie Kifowit (D-Oswego). She received more than $500,000 in campaign contributions and has voted for Madigan twice.
“Mike Madigan is blocking votes on term limits and a property tax freeze in order to force an income tax hike with no reforms on the people of Illinois after New Year's,” Illinois Republican Party spokesman Steven Yaffe said in a statement. “If Dan Beiser, Stephanie Kifowit and Katie Stuart are at all serious about improving Illinois, they should oppose Mike Madigan as speaker until he allows votes on these popular, bipartisan reforms.”
The reforms proposed by Gov. Bruce Rauner and supported by Republican lawmakers -- including pension reform, changes in the workers' compensation system, property tax freezes and term limits -- are adamantly opposed by Madigan. He made it clear on Thursday to Rauner that he would not negotiate on any reforms.
“Illinoisans are fed up with Mike Madigan and the old, failed tactics of the past,” Yaffe said. “Sadly, Mike Madigan is blinded by his desire for power and appears more committed than ever to driving Illinois into the ground. Now is the time for rank-and-file Democrats to show they care more about the people of Illinois than Mike Madigan."