AG Madigan 'incredibly strong' going into campaign

Chris Rizo Oct. 19, 2009, 1:28pm

Lisa Madigan (D)

David Yepsen

Steve Kim (R)

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (Legal Newsline)-It would be difficult for Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan to go into her reelection campaign looking any better than she does now, a leading political analyst said Monday.

A Paul Simon Public Policy Institute poll released late last week indicates that Madigan, who is seeking a third term as the state's chief legal officer, has an 81 percent approval rating among voters who say they have an opinion of the Democrat.

Madigan has a 19 percent disapproval among the same subset, while 16 percent of the poll's 800 respondents said they didn't know enough about her to make a judgment.

"Lisa Madigan is just an incredibly strong politician in this state," David Yepsen, director of the institute, told Legal Newsline. "This job approval rating is proof of just how popular she is."

The poll by the Paul Simon Public Policy Institute at Southern Illinois University Carbondale was released Friday, days after Republican Steve Kim announced he was running for attorney general.

Kim, 39, is the first Asian-American Republican candidate for statewide office in Illinois.

"Beating any incumbent at any time is always a difficult task," Yepsen said. "A Republican who wants to try to take out Lisa Madigan is going to have a real fight on his or her hands."

In August, Republican Joseph Birkett has dropped out of the race, saying it is "virtually impossible" to unseat Madigan.

Yepsen credited Madigan's appeal with voters to her reputation for working hard and fighting for consumer protection. Then there is her decision to forego a race for U.S. Senate next year that won her favor, particularly with women voters, he said.

"She is a young mother who didn't run (for U.S. Senate) because she wants to be home with her children," Yepsen said. "In a field of otherwise older, white, gray men she stands out."

In the Nov. 5, 2002, general election Madigan won more than 50 percent of the statewide vote, making her the state's first female attorney general. In 2006, she was handily reelected with 74 percent of the vote against Tazewell County State's Attorney Stewart "Stu" Umholtz.

The Paul Simon Public Policy Institute poll found of statewide officeholders, only Comptroller Dan Hynes had a higher approval rating than Madigan - with more than 82 percent of respondents with an opinion of him saying they approve of the job he is doing.

U.S. Sen. Roland Burris, D-Ill., had the lowest approval, at 23.5 percent.

Other than Burris, the only other major state politician with a negative approval rating is Illinois House Speaker Mike Madigan, the attorney general's father. Of those with an opinion of the Democrat, just 24 percent said they approved.

The poll of 800 registered Illinois voters was conducted from Sept. 8 to Oct. 9. It has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.4 percentage points.

From Legal Newsline: Reach staff reporter Chris Rizo at

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