This post was written and reported by Springfield Bureau Chief Dave McKinney
The prospect of a months-long trial full of embarrassing political disclosures involving ex-Gov. Blagojevich "is not a plus" for incumbent Democrats, but it won't cost the party control of the Statehouse, House Speaker Michael Madigan predicted Thursday.
"With the House incumbents, the first thing on their campaign brochure is they voted to impeach Blagojevich, and I initiated impeachment," said Madigan, who is chairman of the Democratic Party of Illinois.
"If you're an incumbent in the Senate, you're going to say the first thing I did was
vote to remove Blagojevich from office," Madigan said. "Impeachment is in the Constitution. It's an extraordinary power, rarely used, never used in the state of Illinois. We used it.
"It was the Democrats that initiated the impeachment and removal of the governor," said Madigan, who indicated he has not been subpoenaed as a possible witness in Blagojevich's trial as other top Democrats have been. "I got to know the guy, and you will recall, I stopped going to the meetings," Madigan said. "I endured a lot of criticism for not going to the meetings, but I think I was proved right."
In the Illinois House, there would have to be an epic shift of 12 seats now in Democratic hands to cost Madigan the speakership. In the Senate, eight seats would have to slip away from Democrats to give Republicans control of that chamber.
The trial, on its own, probably won't be enough to shift control of the House, but it will "remind voters over and over again about the mismanagement we've seen for the last eight years all under Democrat control," said Senate Minority Leader Christine Ragono (R-Lemont).