Illinois AG would be state's No. 2 under proposed change

Chris Rizo Feb. 11, 2010, 5:00am

Michael Madigan (D)

Lisa Madigan (D)

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (Legal Newsline)-Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan would be second in line to succeed the governor under a proposal by the Democrat's powerful father, Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan.

That is if the popular attorney general is still the state's chief legal officer in five years.

House Speaker Michael Madigan, D-Chicago, has proposed that in 2015 the state's lieutenant governor's office be eliminated. State Sen. Kwame Raoul, D-Chicago, on Wednesday filed similar legislation in the Senate.

But before that can be done, statewide voters must approve a constitutional amendment, which state lawmakers would first have to approve by a three-fifths supermajority in both the House and Senate chambers before May 2.

In order to get three-fifths support in the House, at least one Republican would need to side with Democrats to approve the plan. Democrats have a supermajority in the state Senate, led by Senate President John Cullerton of Chicago.

If approved by legislators, the question whether to jettison the lieutenant governor's office would appear on the Nov. 2 general election ballot.

For his part, Democratic Gov. Patrick Quinn does not support Madigan's idea. Quinn, the state's former lieutenant governor, became the state's chief executive after fellow Democrat Rod Blagojevich was ousted from office.

Madigan's push to abolish the $135,669-a-year lieutenant governor post comes amid criticism that statewide Democrats did not properly vet wealthy businessman and Democratic nominee Scott Lee Cohen, who withdrew from the race Sunday.

Controversy erupted after revelations that Cohen has had trouble paying child support and has had incidents of violence. In 2005, the pawn broker-turned-politician was arrested -- but not convicted -- for holding a knife to his girlfriend's throat.

Cohen spent an estimated $2 million of his own money during the primary campaign. Michael Madigan is the longtime leader of the Democratic Party of Illinois.

On the Republican side, Jason Plummer, 27, of Edwardsville, Ill. won nomination as candidate for lieutenant governor in last week's primary election. He spent about $1.3 million of family wealth on a campaign that was organized in September. His father, Robert Plummer, owns a chain of lumber stores.

From Legal Newsline: Reach staff reporter Chris Rizo at

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