Poor little Lisa. She has to decide if she wants to be governor or to satisfy the Chicago Democrats who have been some her biggest supporters.
Lisa is, of course, Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan. She is also the eldest daughter of Michael Madigan who is Speaker of the Illinois House of Representatives.
The decision Lisa must make is whether or not to appeal the decision of the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals in the cases of Moore v. Madigan and Shepard v. Madigan to the United States Supreme Court. The court’s decision mandates some sort of concealed carry law in Illinois in 180 days.
Now Madigan, a Chicago Democrat who is widely viewed as a governor-in-waiting, faces a dilemma that is unique to Illinois: If she sides with gun-control advocates and appeals the ruling to the U.S. Supreme Court, she could deepen her party’s north-south regional rift while losing support from pro-gun downstate Democrats.
But if she lets the ruling stand, she could inadvertently end up as the face of concealed carry in Illinois, tarnishing her shining image with her core base of anti-gun Chicago Democrats.
While Chicago Democrats tend to be uniformly in the gun prohibitionist camp, it is important to remember in Illinois that downstate Democrats tend to be pro-gun rights. The concealed carry law that fell just a few votes short last year in the Illinois General Assembly had substantial support from Democrats outside of Chicagoland.
Downstate Democrats such as St. Sen. Bill Haine (D-Alton) are urging Madigan to leave things stand as it will hurt Democrats if she appeals. A number of Illinois political scientists agree with Haine.
“This has been the most divisive issue between Chicago and downstate,” said state Sen. Bill Haine, D-Alton, a gun-rights advocate. He argues that it’s both in Madigan’s political interest and the state’s interest to let the ruling stand, which would mean Illinois would have to create a concealed carry law within 180 days.
“An appeal certainly doesn’t serve (Madigan’s) interests personally. Many people downstate would not understand,” Haine said. “They would conclude that this is just more Chicago politics.”
Chris Mooney, political scientist at the University of Illinois at Springfield, agrees.
“If she makes a federal case out of it, so to speak, there may be alienation of the Democratic Party downstate. That’s probably her biggest problem with pursuing this,” Mooney said. “The party made some progress downstate (in the last election). They want to be seen as more inclusive and not as ruling everything from Chicago.”
With an appeal, Madigan could also face the risk of a high-profile defeat in the nation’s highest court.
“Number one, you’re going to lose,” says John Jackson, political scientist at Southern Illinois University Carbondale. “There’s almost no chance the Supreme Court of the United States, as it’s currently composed, is going to overturn (the ruling).
“The smartest thing (for Madigan) to do,” he said, “is to leave it alone. There’s some voters in Chicago who might not like it … but I think they’re starting to realize they’ve lost the battle.”
Chicago Democrats such as House Majority Leader Barbara Flynn Currie (D-Chicago) and Gov. Pat Quinn are urging Madigan to appeal.
Madigan herself has stayed quiet on her plans saying she is just studying the decision.
Part of me hopes that Madigan does appeal. The other part of me wants to see shall-issue concealed carry in Illinois sooner than later. On Saturday I will be driving to St. Louis and will go through Illinois. My hope is that by next Christmas I won’t have to disarm when I cross the Ohio River at Paducah, Kentucky and enter Illinois. I guess I have a dilemma, too.