Following re-election, will Attorney General Lisa Madigan run for higher office?

By Alexandria Johnson

Attorney General Lisa Madigan was reelected to a fourth term on Tuesday. Photo courtesy of Citizens for Lisa Madigan.
Attorney General Lisa Madigan was re-elected to a fourth term on Tuesday.
Photo courtesy of Citizens for Lisa Madigan.

Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan easily won re-election to a fourth term Tuesday, and discussions started up again about her political future.

“I would encourage her to look at the Senate in two years when [Republican] Mark Kirk’s seat is up, and he’s vulnerable,” said Leonard Cahmann, a Madigan supporter from Fort Sheridan. “The Democrats should put up a strong candidate.”

Madigan won 59 percent of the vote, to Republican Paul Schmipf’s 38 percent. Libertarian Ben Koyl received 3 percent.

In her last two elections, Madigan, 48, also won a large majority, with about 65 percent in 2010 and 72 percent in 2006, according to the Illinois State Board of Elections.

“It shows that she’s an extremely popular state official,” said Dick Simpson, a political science professor at the University of Illinois at Chicago and former 44th Ward alderman. “She won handily. There was never any doubt, so it positions her if she wants to run for governor in four years … or she could decide to run for Senate for Kirk’s seat.”

Madigan’s office did not encourage the speculation.

Madigan says she is focused on her responsibilities serving a fourth term. “I am very proud to serve as your Attorney General, and it will be an honor to continue serving as the Attorney General of Illinois,” she said in a statement Wednesday.

Eileen Boyce, a campaign spokeswoman, echoed, “The AG is focused on serving as the Attorney General of Illinois and continue fighting for the people across Illinois.”

Yet Madigan supporters and political analysts both consider Madigan a potential candidate for higher state offices.

“Why not [run for governor]? She’s an excellent politician,” said Charlie Cho, a Madigan supporter and president of the Korean Leaders Council. “My whole family supports her.”

But Madigan’s chances to run for governor or senator could be tainted by perception that the Madigan family has too much power in Illinois politics. Her father, state Rep. Michael Madigan (D-Chicago) has served as the Speaker of the Illinois House of Representatives for all but two years since 1983. He too was up for re-election Tuesday, unopposed, as representative for the 22nd district and won another two-year term.

Still, Simpson said he thinks Illinois voters could potentially see Madigan’s name on the ballot for governor in 2018.

“She’s done more in that area. It gives her time for her kids to get older,” Simpson said, explaining her experience would best fit with running for governor rather than U.S. Senator. Madigan’s daughters, Rebecca and Lucy Byrnes, are 9 and 6 years old.

Last year, Madigan was expected to be a serious contender in this gubernatorial race, but she announced in July 2013 that she would not run for the governorship as long as her father was in the Illinois House – addressing the inherent conflict of interest.

“Mike Madigan is 72 now, so when she would run [in four years], he would probably step aside,” Simpson said.