The latest Sun-Times column from Carol Marin shines a light on Illinois Democratic Party Chairman Michael Madigan's failure to look beyond his own narrow set of interests.
In today's Sun-Times, columnist Carol Marin writes about Michael Madigan's Democratic Party of Illinois, an operation that exists only to expand the House speaker's majority in Springfield and to support his favored candidates for certain statewide offices. Her hook is that the party website still lists statewide candidates from 2006, including former Gov. Rod Blagojevich:
Still, it's curious to see such a Dark Ages setup for the state party. That is, unless you stop looking at it as a state party and see it as, in the words of one party strategist who requested anonymity, "an overgrown caucas [sic] run by the speaker of the House, Mike Madigan, to elect people Madigan sent." [...]
And just ask Tammy Duckworth how much assistance she got from the state party in 2006 against Peter Roskam. None. The state GOP provided a flood of campaign literature for Roskam. Madigan's crew was missing in action for Duckworth.
"There is no Democratic Party of Illinois," strategist Kitty Kurth said by phone Tuesday. "When I talk to my friends at the Democratic National Committee, they say our state chair won't return their calls."
It's great to see a local reporter shining a light on the party chairman's failure to look beyond his own narrow set of interests. But what Marin fails to mention is that Sen. Dick Durbin has been working in recent years to create a shadow party apparatus in the state that can assist Democratic congressional candidates shut out by Madigan.
Last year, Illinois Victory '08, a county party committee based in Waukegan, handled the Democratic "coordinated campaign," which in almost every other state is an extension of the party itself. This operation essentially provided a receptacle for Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee funds that party leaders in D.C. didn't trust Madigan to use on field and organizational efforts in support of federal candidates. Durbin has also been working with the Democratic County Chairmen's Association in Illinois to build and maintain their own voter file.
As a result of Durbin's efforts, Democratic candidates in a number of 2008 Illinois congressional races enjoyed some additional support and resources. It will be interesting to see how this apparatus further establishes itself as 2010 ramps up.