CHARLOTTE, N.C.--State Democratic Party chief and House Speaker Michael Madigan went to bat for Gov. Pat Quinn Monday in the face of attacks against him by public-employee unions and by Republicans aiming to unseat him in 2014.
But the Southwest Side Democrat stopped short of anointing Quinn as his 2014 choice for governor and was his ever-usual cagy self when it came to the future political plans of his daughter, Attorney General Lisa Madigan, and whether she might be angling for a run for governor.
"Some of us can be a little forgetful, and let us not forget the conditions under which Pat Quinn became the governor of Illinois," Madigan said during the opening-day Democratic National Convention breakfast for Illinois delegates.
"All of Illinois, including the Democratic Party of Illinois, were involved in a terrible scandal. The result of that was Pat Quinn walked in to the governor's office, being required to assume the responsilbities of the governor's office, the responsibilities to manage the affiars of the state of Illinois midstream. At about the same time, the national economy fell apart and state reciepts from the state income tax and state sales tax declined by 25 percent," the speaker said, with Quinn at his side.
"Decreasing services for a Democrat, a Democratic governor, is just a bunch of bad news," Madigan continued. "That's all it is, day after day after day. It's like Chinese water torture. That's what Pat Quinn has been called to do since he [took office].
"He's been the subject of a lot of undue criticism from a lot of different quarters, just depending on what kind of ax they want to grind, many of them being Republicans. We're fortunate Pat was there the time it happened, that he's had the fortitude going on, dealing with one serious problem after another," Madigan told several hundred delegates.
Later, meeting with reporters, Madigan was asked if his comments in support of Quinn should be interpreted as an endorsement for a second full term in 2014, and the speaker wouldn't say.
"We haven't gotten to that yet," Madigan said.
He then was asked about whether his daughter might be interested in running for governor to which Madigan replied: "She'll be here today. You ought to ask her. I don't have any thoughts on that."
Madigan did say he has no intention of retiring and, if she were interested in a 2014 gubernatorial bid, nothing would stop her from aiming for the Executive Mansion while he is in control of the Illinois House.
"Why not?" he asked. "Why not?"