The Chicago Syndicate: The House That Madigan Built: The Record Run of Illinois' Velvet Hammer

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Tuesday, March 08, 2022

The House That Madigan Built: The Record Run of Illinois' Velvet Hammer

Michael Madigan rose from the Chicago machine to hold unprecedented power as Speaker of the Illinois House of Representatives. In his thirty-six years wielding the gavel, Madigan outlasted governors, passed or blocked legislation at will, and outmaneuvered virtually every attempt to limit his reach.

Veteran reporter Ray Long draws on four decades of observing state government to provide the definitive political analysis of Michael Madigan. Secretive, intimidating, shrewd, power-hungry--Madigan mesmerized his admirers and often left his opponents too beaten down to oppose him. Long vividly recreates the battles that defined the Madigan era, from stunning James Thompson with a lightning-strike tax increase, to pressing for a pension overhaul that ultimately failed in the courts, to steering the House toward the Rod Blagojevich impeachment.

Long also shines a light on the machinery that kept the Speaker in power. Head of a patronage army, Madigan ruthlessly used his influence and fundraising prowess to reward loyalists and aid his daughter’s electoral fortunes. At the same time, he reshaped bills to guarantee he and his Democratic troops shared in the partisan spoils of his legislative victories. Yet Madigan’s position as the state’s seemingly invulnerable power broker could not survive scandals among his close associates and the widespread belief that his time as Speaker had finally reached its end.

Unsparing and authoritative, The House That Madigan Built, is the page-turning account of one the most powerful politicians in Illinois history.


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