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Citing conflicts, Illinois attorney general passes on governor bid

Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan speaks during a news conference at the DOJ in Washington D.C. December 21, 2011. REUTERS/Benjamin Mye
Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan speaks during a news conference at the DOJ in Washington D.C. December 21, 2011. REUTERS/Benjamin Mye

By Greg McCune

CHICAGO (Reuters) - Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan said on Monday she would not run for governor because her father is the speaker of the state House of Representatives and the state "would not be well served" with the same family controlling top positions of government.

Lisa Madigan had been considering a challenge to unpopular Illinois Governor Pat Quinn in the Democratic primary in 2014. Opinion polls showed her beating Quinn and former White House Chief of Staff Bill Daley, who has declared he will challenge Quinn for the Democratic nomination.

Her father, Michael Madigan, has been Illinois speaker for nearly three decades and is widely considered to be the most powerful politician in the state. Some political analysts, including President Barack Obama's Chicago-based political adviser David Axelrod, had warned that Lisa Madigan would face conflict-of-interest questions over her father's position if she ran.

Lisa Madigan apparently reached a similar conclusion. "I feel strongly that the state would not be well served by having a governor and speaker of the house from the same family," she said in a statement. "With Speaker Madigan planning to continue in office, I will not run for governor."

Michael Madigan has come under criticism for failing to secure an agreement in the legislature to fix the state's pension crisis. Illinois has nearly $100 billion in unfunded public pension liabilities and the nation's lowest state credit ratings.

The speaker also has faced scrutiny in recent days over allegations that the chief executive of the Chicago commuter rail system was ousted in part because he did not comply with a request from Michael Madigan that he raise the salary of a transit official who for years had worked on Michael Madigan's election campaigns.

The allegations - laid out in an eight-page memo by the agency's former chief, Alex Clifford - were seen as evidence of the system of political favors and patronage that long has dominated the state's Democratic politics.

Clifford was ousted from his job but received a $718,000 severance package that one of the rail agency's board members recently described as "hush money." Michael Madigan issued a statement saying the employee deserved the raise based on merit.

(Reporting By Greg McCune)

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