There were some major announcements coming out of Springfield last week regarding a pair of top state politicians choosing not to seek re-election in 2018.
With Barbara Flynn Currie and Attorney General Lisa Madigan both announcing their intentions to not seek re-election, many state lawmakers, including local State Representative C.D. Davidsmeyer, are wondering how these decisions might affect the future of the General Assembly.
Barbara Flynn Currie, Democratic House Majority Leader and top lieutenant to House Speaker Michael Madigan announced last Thursday that she plans to retire and thus will not seek re-election. First elected in 1979 to serve the 25th district in the south side of Chicago, Currie was assigned to her influential role by Madigan in 1997.
With Currie now retired, there’s likely to be at least a few changes at the Capitol in the coming years. To gauge how this announcement might affect the state’s General Assembly, we spoke with local State Representative, Republican C.D. Davidsmeyer.
As for Currie, Davidsmeyer says she was a major part of Illinois politics over several decades.
“She’s been around for quite some time now, and she’s been (Speaker) Madigan’s top lieutenant for many years. She was the first female Majority Leader, which was a big step. She’s a very intelligent person, she runs a lot of the difficult legislation, some of the more difficulty intricacies of how government works. She’s also a very political person, so she’ll run a lot of political bills as well that might put Republicans in a ‘Catch 22;’ if you vote for and it’s bad for the state, but if you vote against it they’re going to say you don’t care about a certain group of people. So she’s been a big part of the political side of the policies for years and years,” Davidsmeyer explains.
With Currie’s pending absence, Davidsmeyer says he isn’t sure if Speaker Madigan has someone in mind to fill the role left by her departure.
“I don’t know that there’s an heir apparent for (Currie’s) position. There’s certainly people that I think that (Speaker) Madigan would go for, some of the others that have stepped into the role of political bulldog or something like that, that may be able to step up in that position. In both caucuses, there’s really been a lot of turnover, there hasn’t been a lot of turnover at the top, so when you see somebody like Barbara Flynn Currie retiring, it’s very interesting. You just don’t know what direction (Speaker Madigan) is going to go from there,” says Davidsmeyer.
One day after Currie’s announcement, Attorney General Lisa Madigan, a Democrat and daughter of House Speaker Michael Madigan, announced that she too would not seek re-election.
On that subject, Davidsmeyer believes there could be real change that comes as a result of bringing in a new Attorney General.
“I actually really do (think there will be changes). I know the Republicans already have Erika Harold who is going to be running for that position, and I think she’ll be someone who can step into that position and be a proponent of good government, looking out for corruption, whether it’s at the state level or the local level, whatever level it may be, I think that she will truly go after that instead of just giving lip service. I think a lot of times, we felt like there was too close of a connection probably between the Speaker and the Attorney General, and this will give an opportunity to have a greater separation of those two positions,” Davidsmeyer says.
Erika Harold, who as Davidsmeyer mentioned plans to run for Illinois Attorney General as a Republican, is an attorney from Urbana, Illinois. Harold is also a two-time Republican candidate for the 13th congressional seat in the state of Illinois, which is currently occupied by Rodney Davis.
Primaries for the 2018 election in Illinois will take place this coming March.