‘We Paid a Heavy Price’: Durbin on Madigan’s Leadership, the Presidency and the Senate


U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin says embattled House Speaker Michael Madigan’s leadership of the Illinois Democratic Party hurt Democratic candidates and causes statewide in Tuesday’s election.

“All across our state – and the advertising told the story – we paid a heavy price for the speaker’s chairmanship of the Democratic Party,” Durbin said Wednesday night during an interview on “Chicago Tonight.”

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“Candidates who had little or no connection with him whatsoever were being tarred as Madigan allies who are behind corruption and so forth and so on,” he continued. “It was really disconcerting to see the price that we paid on that. I hope he takes that to heart and understands that his presence as chairman of our party has not helped.”

Despite Democrats losing ground in the state legislature, the failure of the so-called “fair tax” amendment, and the defeat of Supreme Court Justice Thomas Kilbride, Durbin stopped short of calling for Madigan to step down from his post as state party chair.

“Let’s wait and see what happens in the near term here. The (Illinois) House is about to reconvene in Springfield ... and I’m sure this conversation is going to move to a new level now that the election’s behind us,” he said.

Durbin, Illinois’ senior senator, was handily reelected Tuesday to his fifth term and currently serves as the Senate Minority Whip. As for control of the White House, Durbin expressed optimism that former vice president Joe Biden appears to have a path to victory, and that Nevada may be called for Biden as early as Thursday – enough to get him the 270 electoral college votes needed. That’s despite President Trump’s false claims of voter fraud and legal attempts to stop some of the count. And Durbin wasn’t optimistic that Republicans will stand up to Trump should he refuse to accept the results.

“I've watched four years hoping that more of my Republican colleagues would speak out when the president was engaged in the most outrageous conduct. I can count on one hand with plenty of room those who finally did,” Durbin said. “I don’t know that even at this moment in history, if he’s about to lose, whether his Republican senators and members of the House will have the courage to step up and say for the good of the republic, ‘Mr. President, accept the verdict of this election.’”

Durbin also acknowledged that it’s looking unlikely that Democrats can retake control of the U.S. Senate – calling the only path to victory “a very unusual one” – despite what he says were strong, well-funded candidates who were polling well.

“I've personally spoken to a lot of my colleagues today about yesterday and what happened. Most of us believe that whatever polling technique we were using at the time, it was not effective. It really didn’t measure the sentiments of voters as they went in to vote yesterday and it was reflected in race after race, where we thought we were in much stronger positions,” he said.


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