CHICAGO — Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan, one of the most popular elected officials in the state, announced Friday she will not run for reelection in 2018, a stunning move that has political insiders scrambling to guess what office — if any — she’s seeking next.
Madigan, a four-term Democrat from Chicago and daughter of the most powerful political leader in Illinois — House speaker and state party leader Mike Madigan — has long been considered a possible candidate for governor, but in 2014 she ultimately bowed out, citing a conflict with her father’s position.
Her popularity, record as attorney general and name ID could make her an automatic contender for just about any elected position in the state. More recently, rumors have swirled about her having interest in the Chicago mayoral race or even a possible run for U.S. Senate. But sources close to Madigan say she may spend some time in the private sector, at least in the near term.
On Friday, she would only say she is ready for the next challenge.
“As I look ahead, I believe that the end of my fourth term as attorney general will be the right time for me to seek a new challenge. I have dedicated my career to helping people. That will continue to be my focus, and I am looking forward to finding new ways to do that with the passion that I have brought to my work as attorney general,” Madigan said in a statement. “I have no doubt that having the opportunity to serve the people of Illinois as their attorney general will forever be a highlight of my life. I thank the people of Illinois for placing their trust in me, and I want to thank all of those who have supported my work in elected office.”
Speaker Mike Madigan, who this year broke a record as the longest-serving state House speaker in U.S. history, said he was looking forward to the next chapter for his daughter.
“No father could be prouder of his daughter’s personal and professional accomplishments, and I look forward to watching her continue her commitment to helping people in a new capacity,” he said in a statement.
The Madigan name in Illinois has been under assault since Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner, a multimillionaire, came on the scene in 2014 and poured millions of dollars into an anti-Mike Madigan ad campaign. Rauner has long blamed the state’s financial ills on the longtime speaker.
While the anti-Madigan rhetoric has done damage to the family brand name, there’s little evidence that it extended to Lisa Madigan, who has worked to be independent of her father. Despite being favored in a possible Democratic gubernatorial primary in 2014, Lisa Madigan pulled out of contention, saying she believed her father’s positions as speaker and state party leader would present conflicts. At that time, her father refused to get out of the way for his daughter’s political aspirations.