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Chair of McLean County Democrats says Madigan's politics are a thing of the past

Madigan at a podium
Jerry Nowicki
Capitol News Illinois

News of the federal indictment against former Illinois House speaker Michael Madigan has set off a flurry of rebukes from both sides of the aisle.

Democratic Gov. JB Pritzker called the conduct alleged in the indictment “deplorable and a stark violation of the public’s trust.”

Republicans painted the news in even bleaker terms. House Republican Leader Jim Durkin responded to the indictment saying, “Today may be the darkest day in Illinois history.”

Patrick Cortesi, chair of the McLean County Democratic Party, said that kind of doom and gloom likely prefigures the Republican line of attack come midterms.

“Conservatives like to find people that serve as good foils, good boogey men," Cortesi said. “They like to campaign against people.”

Facing federal charges of racketeering and bribery, Madigan – once the most powerful man in the Illinois Democratic party – may well make a fine boogey man. Cortesi said Madigan should be held accountable for any crimes he may have committed. But when it comes to his brand of machine-style politics, Madigan no doesn’t represent modern Illinois Democrats.

“I think we have been doing a good job of rooting out that kind of politicking that old-style way of doing things,” Cortesi said. New leadership, like current House speaker Chris Welch and state party chair Robin Kelly, is far more reflective of the direction of Illinois Democrats, he said.

“They're doing everything they can to restore faith and trust in state government,” said Cortesi.

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