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Madigan’s heir apparent still up in the air — and he rejects call to stay out of it

Leaders of the Coalition for Change IL3 released a list of demands Friday regarding the appointment, including that Madigan hand his votes over to a proxy and play no role in the decision.

Then House Speaker Michael Madigan discusses legislative business with fellow lawmakers on the House floor in 2007.
Then House Speaker Michael Madigan discusses legislative business with fellow lawmakers on the House floor in 2007.
Seth Perlman/AP file

Mike Madigan controls a majority of the weighted vote that will determine who succeeds him in the Illinois House, but a coalition of progressive groups from the Southwest Side and surrounding areas wants the “disgraced” former legislator’s opinion to carry no weight.

Leaders of the Coalition for Change IL3 released a list of demands Friday regarding the appointment, including that Madigan hand his votes over to a proxy and play no role in the decision.

“The Southwest Side — and the entire state of Illinois — has been plagued by Machine politics for decades,” the coalition said in a statement. “For Madigan’s entire career in the General Assembly, he has led through intimidation tactics, patronage and a long legacy of backroom deals.”

Madigan, 78, resigned Thursday from the legislative seat he has held since 1971. But as 13th Ward Democratic committeeman, he has 56% of the weighted vote that will determine who replaces him.

Who will be Madigan’s heir apparent remains up in the air.

Moeen Zahdan, the 13th Ward superintendent, was one name circulated Thursday, but by Friday, a Madigan spokeswoman put the kibosh on that.

House Speaker Michael Madigan, D-Chicago, listens during a House session in 2007.
House Speaker Michael Madigan, D-Chicago, listens during a House session in 2007.
Ted Schurter/The State Journal-Register, via AP file

“Moe is one of the best public servants in the city, but he was never a candidate for the seat,” said Eileen Boyce, a spokeswoman for Madigan.

Asked who might be a candidate, Boyce said that has “yet to be determined.”

Alaina Hampton, who worked in the ward before going public with allegations of sexual harassment against Madigan aide Kevin Quinn, described Zahdan as “extremely loyal” and a “protege” to 13th Ward Ald. Marty Quinn, Kevin Quinn’s brother.

House members of the Illinois Legislative Latino Caucus said in a Friday statement “whoever goes before the appointment committee to be considered for the vacancy should recognize that they are seeking to represent the House district with the 3rd largest Latinx population in the State of Illinois out of the 118 districts.”

The other four Democratic committeepersons who will have a say in the appointment vote issued a statement Thursday calling for an open process that “seeks the public input for qualified candidates.”

The demands from Coalition for Change IL3 – whose membership includes a local chapter of the anti-Donald Trump Indivisible Illinois and Independent Precinct Organization chapters from the 12th, 15th and 22nd wards — also include the posting of candidate resumes online, holding an open candidate forum on Saturday to hear from those who might be interested and a public Zoom link for the Sunday meeting.

AP

Jose Torrez, a co-coordinator of the coalition, warned that Madigan could try to confuse the selection process by recruiting sham candidates.

“Madigan is notorious for running candidates against himself in a show of a Democratic process, and this is no different,” Torrez said.

Boyce had no comment on Torrez’s comments.

But she said Madigan is committed to an open process, is not recusing himself and will attend the meeting he set for Sunday to hear from candidates and choose a successor. The meeting will be held in a ballroom of the Balzekas Museum, which is in the same building as Madigan’s ward offices at 6500 S. Pulaski.

The former speaker’s political free fall began last summer after federal prosecutors accused ComEd of bribing associates of Madigan in exchange for his organization’s help in passing legislation the utility wanted. Madigan has not been charged with any crime and denies wrongdoing.