A new batch of emails released by Wikileaks Oct. 12 reveal Hillary Clinton’s
team attempted to change the date of Illinois’ presidential primary to April or
May instead of March. And they knew they needed the ear of the state’s most
powerful politician to do so.
Nothing moves in Illinois without the blessing of its all-powerful House speaker
and chairman of the state Democratic Party: Mike Madigan. However, Clinton’s
campaign may have chosen the wrong messenger for their request.
Clinton campaign manager Robert Mook outlined his strategy in a Nov. 26, 2014,
email to Clinton campaign chair John Podesta, the Wikileaks documents show. Mook
wanted Bill Daley to contact Madigan’s Chief of Staff Tim Mapes to make the
request that the Illinois General Assembly quickly introduce and pass a bill
changing the date of the primary.
Daley is the former White House Chief of Staff to President Barack Obama, the
son of the late Chicago Mayor Richard J. Daley and brother to former Chicago
Mayor Richard M. Daley.
The later timing of the vote would act as a safeguard for the Clinton campaign
were she struggling in the primary. The Wikileaks emails show Mook offered to
give Illinois a 10 percent boost in delegates if the General Assembly moved the
primary to April, and 20 percent if lawmakers moved it to May.
As the Chicago Sun-Times notes, Madigan changed the date of the 2008 Illinois
primary benefit then-candidate Barack Obama, moving it up to February from
But this time would be different.
Madigan’s more than 30 year reign as Illinois’ speaker of the House is explored
in a new documentary, “Madigan: Power. Privilege. Politics.”
The documentary touches on the subject of legislative mapmaking, which is how
Madigan first took power over the House in the early 1980s. Throughout the
state’s history, Illinois lawmakers have carefully crafted legislative maps to
maximize their political advantage. This system has led to a lack of competitive
elections, and an equally distressing lack of confidence in state government.
But Daley has been involved with a massive effort to change that system.
He serves on the board of directors for the Independent Maps Amendment, which
gathered more than half a million signatures to put a mapmaking reform amendment
on the state ballot this November.
But a Madigan lawyer sued to have that question stricken from the ballot. And he
Asking a man who led an effort to reduce the speaker’s power for
Madigan’s favor was a fool’s errand.
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Illinois political commentator Rich Miller wrote in his Oct. 13
newsletter that Madigan spokesman Steve Brown pointed to Daley’s
involvement with redistricting reform as one of the reasons for the
The Mook email Wikileaks released suggested the Clinton campaign had
tried to change the date of the Illinois primary on multiple
occasions, but had been rebuked.
“As we discussed, they don’t really care about being helpful and
feel forgotten and neglected by POTUS,” Mook wrote. “The key point
is that this is not an Obama ask, but a Hillary ask. And the
Clintons won’t forget what their friends have done for them.”
The new documentary about Madigan shows how his approach echoes
Clinton’s in this case, as he has built an unprecedented political
force in Illinois through favoritism.
Filmed interviews with former politicians, professors and political
commentators exposed the political machine the speaker has built.
“He’s been getting people jobs, getting promotions for his people,
getting raises for his people. It’s what he does,” Miller said in an
interview for the documentary.
He compared Madigan’s operation to that of mob leader Paulie Cicero
in the organized crime movie “Goodfellas.” In return for support,
the speaker provides protection for favored workers and Democratic
“Everybody pays tribute up, but from the top down they take care of
you. And that’s how they get the loyalty,” Miller said.
The Democratic Party has held a majority in the Illinois House for
all but two years since 1983. They can select anyone to be House
speaker. But they choose Madigan every time.
It’s easy to see why. The man has unprecedented authority.
If a Democratic House member doesn’t vote for Madigan, he can take
away her campaign money, strip her of any leadership roles and even
make sure none of her bills get a hearing. The Illinois House’s
unique rules allow the speaker to ensure bills that threaten his
power base are not given a public hearing.
Madigan rules Illinois with an iron grip. And failure to follow
through on a favor can come with dire consequences.
To find out where you can see “Madigan: Power. Privilege. Politics.”
go to michaelmadigan.com.
Austin Berg worked as a writer and consultant on the film “Madigan:
Power. Privilege. Politics.”
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