A Lake County Democrat — the only House Democrat who didn’t vote for Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan’s historic leadership re-election during January’s inauguration ceremony — on Monday announced he’s considering a run for governor.
J.B. Pritzker, Chris Kennedy, state Sen. Daniel Biss, D-Evanston, Chicago Ald. Ameya Pawar and Madison County schools superintendent Bob Daiber have already announced their bids. Chicago City Treasurer Kurt Summers is still exploring a run for the Democratic primary.
Rep. Scott Drury, D-Highwood, told the Sun-Times he’s considering a bid to see whether Illinois voters want a candidate who “represents the true values of the Democratic Party, not the values of the establishment.”
He announced his decision in an email to supporters.
“I recognize the enormity of trying to change the status quo in Illinois and the resistance the establishment will put forth to stop the effort,” Drury wrote in the email. “However, as Bob Dylan famously wrote, ‘the first one now will later be last, for the times they are a-changin’. The purpose of this exploration is to determine whether Illinois is ready for such change.”
Drury — who was an assistant U.S. attorney in Chicago before taking office in 2013 — said he plans to set up meetings and travel the state to talk to “real people” to determine if he’ll run.
“Let’s face it. Illinois is defined as having no budget, defined by bickering and is defined by violence. It is defined by public corruption. By any measure I have the experience, the skill and the background and the history of showing that I tackled these issues and have worked on these issues instead of just getting wrapped up in the partisanship which has left our state a disaster,” Drury said.
Drury said he hasn’t talked to his fellow Democrats about his decision: “I don’t believe that my candidacy is going to be the one that’s going to be propelled by establishment politicians.”
Drury notes in his email to supporters that he was the first Democrat in 30 years to refuse to support Madigan as speaker. He voted “present” after exploring a run for speaker himself, but later said in a statement that “it became clear that for myriad reasons a majority of the General Assembly is not ready for a new Speaker.”
The powerful Southwest Side Democrat has held the reins in the Illinois House of Representatives for much of the past 34 years, serving as speaker for all but two years since 1983. He was first elected to the House in 1971.
Madigan won re-election to the top House post in January with the votes of 66 Democrats — setting him on a course to become the nation’s longest serving state House speaker for at least the last century.
Assuming he completes this two-year term, Madigan will have spent 34 years total as speaker, eclipsing the 33-year record set by South Carolina’s Solomon Blatt, who served from 1937-1946 and 1951-1973, according to the Illinois Campaign for Political Reform.
Drury said ultimately “the vote was not about” Madigan.
“Illinois is in a free-fall into the abyss,” he said in January. “My action today should give hope to the hopeless that a new day is on the horizon.”
Drury added: “I have been asked if I fear repercussions. With history as a guide, the answer is yes.”
Those so-called “repercussions” included not receiving an engraved desk clock the day after inauguration — which all other Democrats received. And he blames Madigan for losing his vice-chairmanship on the House Judiciary-Criminal Committee.
“There’s no question about that. I have 100-percent certainty that I lost my vice-chairmanship because of the speaker,” Drury said on Monday.
Madigan spokesman Steve Brown has denied that claim.
“We had a new General Assembly and appointments were made,” Brown said. He denied that Drury didn’t get the post because of his “present” vote.