What’s the blueprint to political success?

November 20, 2017 GMT

The election for Illinois governor is a little less than a year away.

But one thing already is clear. Republican Bruce Rauner is running against Democratic Speaker of the House Michael Madigan. Rauner doesn’t even have the Republican nomination yet. He may face a primary challenge from Jeanne Ives, who represents a more conservative wing of the party. On the Democratic side, six are running. Of the six, only two, State Sen. Daniel Biss and Regional School Superintendent Robert Daiber, have ever won an election for anything. The front-runners, J.B. Pritzker and Chris Kennedy, have money and name recognition, but no track record on getting votes or passing legislation.

It is not an insider crowd.

Power, instead, rests in the hands and gavel of Madigan, speaker of the House for 32 years and a member of the House for 46 years — the ultimate insider.

Now, the Republicans getting enough votes — or causing enough commotion — to unseat Madigan is like you or I becoming an astronaut. You can dream about it. It is highly unlikely.

If you view the history of Illinois governorships, it is possible to win by campaigning against the machine. Dan Walker did it. Rod Blagojevich did it. Dipping back into history, Henry Horner did it. Walker’s autobiography is “The Maverick and the Machine.” People will vote — sometimes — for reform.

But it is almost impossible to govern the state without some of those Democratic votes from Cook County. Indeed, savvy Republican governors, from William Stratton to Richard Ogilvie to Jim Thompson to George Ryan knew how to reach across the aisle and make an accommodation to get things done — whether it was keeping the White Sox in Chicago, creating the income tax or passing Illinois First bonds. It was a working alliance of Republicans downstate and Cook County Democrats.

Rauner might not like Madigan. He also is not alone is this feeling. You don’t have to agree with Madigan on everything. But the time has come to, perhaps, accept reality and work with him.