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Some free advice for J.B. Pritzker: Throw Speaker Madigan under the bus

Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan and Democratic gubernatorial nominee J.B. Pritzker | Seth Perlman/AP and Joshua Lott/Getty Images

Nothing in life is free. Especially if you are J.B. Pritzker.

J.B., here’s some crucial advice to Illinois’ newly minted Democratic gubernatorial nominee.

Gratis.

Throw Illinois House Speaker Michael J. Madigan under the bus.

Since you entered the 2018 gubernatorial race a year ago, you have been fending off a lethal charge: That Mike Madigan is silently backing you. That the chairman of the Illinois Democratic Party wants you to be governor.

OPINION

The sphinx-like speaker isn’t talking, but you know it’s true.

It’s all about MJM.

You are a billionaire, so Madigan doesn’t have to raise a penny for you. Instead, he can spend his political war chest to re-elect Democratic legislators, who will, in turn, reelect him as speaker.

Madigan has been speaker for about 33 of the last 35 years, and he plans to continue to control every aspect of Illinois government and politics.

That’s why Gov. Bruce Rauner is working overtime to tie you to Madigan.

“Madigan wants Pritzker. Madigan picked Pritzker as his handpicked candidate. Pritzker is part of the machine,” Rauner declared last week, for the millionth time.

Madigan is evil. Madigan is the Master Puppeteer. J.B. will be his puppet, and so it goes.

J.B., don’t let that happen. You are the decisive Democratic nominee. Play your hand like a card shark, not a cuttlefish.

Stand up and say that you don’t answer to Mike Madigan. Say you are going to run Illinois like a real governor, in partnership with the entire Illinois General Assembly.

You don’t need Madigan. Madigan needs you.

Excuse the expression, but your billions “trump” Madigan’s chump change.

Your massive get-out-the vote operation won your 18-point primary victory. You plowed more than $700,000 into Democratic party funds, with more to come.

Madigan is the most unpopular Democrat in Illinois. The cracks in his iron man reputation are showing — and growing.

Former political operative Alaina Hampton is suing Madigan’s organization, charging she was the victim of “severe and persistent sexual harassment” by a supervisor in Madigan’s campaign office. The harassment was ignored, she says, and Madigan’s operation retaliated against her for reporting it.

Prominent Democrats are calling for Mr. Iron Man to resign his speakership.

Assessor Joe Berrios, Madigan’s top Cook County minion, lost his own re-election campaign in the March 20 primary. Berrios’ county party chairmanship will go bye-bye as well. State Rep. and Madigan aide-de-camp Dan Burke was knocked off by the Jesus “Chuy” Garcia crowd.

J.B., your constant campaign mantra is that you are “independent.”

Yes, you disagree with Madigan on a few issues. You support an independent commission to draw legislative maps and term limits for legislative leaders. You called for “a complete independent investigation” of the sexual harassment charges. You say, “we ought to hold [Madigan] responsible, if in fact he’s either a perpetrator or allowed this to go on.”

“I’ve been an independent leader, an independent thinker my whole life, and I’m not going to change when I become governor,” you have said.

Prove it.

For starters, call for Madigan to go. Clean up Illinois’ corrupt political system. Demand an investigation into Madigan’s political operation. Back a comprehensive overhaul of Cook County’s discriminatory tax system. Propose legislation that will prohibit fat cat property tax appeals lawyers like Madigan from feeding off that system.

That would leave Rauner speechless. Instead of pummeling you and Madigan, he would have to run on his own dismal record.

It’s good politics.

It will get you elected.

It’s the right thing to do for Illinois.

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