Front-Runner Exits Governor's Race

The Illinois attorney general said Monday she won’t run for governor next year because her father remains a top state legislator.

State Attorney General Lisa Madigan (D), who had been considered a front-runner against Gov. Pat Quinn (D), said in a statement that she would not run because her father, state House Speaker Michael Madigan (D-Chicago), would remain in his post. Madigan instead said she will seek a fourth term as state attorney general.

“I feel strongly that the state would not be well served by having a governor and speaker of the House from the same family and have never planned to run for governor if that would be the case,” Lisa Madigan said in a statement to the Chicago Tribune. “With Speaker Madigan planning to continue in office, I will not run for governor.”

Michael Madigan also serves as state Democratic Party chairman and is considered the most powerful person in state government. If his daughter had won the governorship, they would have been the first parent-child pair to run a state government’s executive and legislative branches in American history. With the exception of two years in the 1990s, Michael Madigan has been state House speaker since 1983.

Lisa Madigan’s decision leaves former White House Chief of Staff Bill Daley the only Democratic challenger to Quinn, who has some of the lowest poll ratings of any U.S. governor. Daley, the son and brother of former Chicago mayors, announced his entry in to the race earlier this year. Quinn became governor in 2009 following the impeachment of former Gov. Rod Blagojevich (D), and narrowly won a full term of his own in 2010.

Madigan’s departure from the governor’s race also trims the number of potential Democratic women seeking state governorships in 2014. Currently, only one Democratic woman, New Hampshire Gov. Maggie Hassan, holds a governorship, compared with four Republican women governors. Several Democratic women in other states, including Texas state Sen. Wendy Davis, New Mexico state Sen. Linda Lopez and Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley, are considering 2014 gubernatorial bids. New Jersey Democratic gubernatorial nominee Barbara Buono is running this year.

Madigan’s decision also shakes up the 2014 political plans of Lt. Gov. Sheila Simon (D), the daughter of former U.S. Sen. Paul Simon. Sheila Simon announced earlier this year that she would not seek reelection on a ticket with Quinn and would consider another office. Simon had been considered a likely candidate for attorney general if Madigan had sought the governorship. Sheila Simon has also been mentioned as a potential challenger to state Comptroller Judy Baar Topinka (R).

On the Republican side, state Treasurer Dan Rutherford, state Sen. Bill Brady and Kirk Dillard and businessman Bruce Rauner are the only announced candidates for governor.

Madigan’s announcement, after months of heavy fundraising, comes days after Alex Clifford, the ex-CEO of the Metra suburban commuter rail, alleged he was ousted for refusing to follow Mike Madigan’s orders to hire and grant an employee pay hike. Mike Madigan denied the allegations.

Joseph Erbentraut contributed.

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