IL Dem running as 'fresh face' has close ties to corrupt machine

With the anti-establishment mood in the country, we are going to see a lot of politicians the next few years claiming independence from the "politics as usual" crowd when they run for high office. Some will be genuine outsiders - insurgents who want to overturn not only politics in their state, but the corrupt way that government operates.

And then there will be politicians like Illinois state representative Daniel liss who adopt an independent personae but are actually creatures of the same machine that has run the state for 50 years.

Biss wants to be governor and has entered an already crowded Democratic field by proclaiming himself a "fresh face."  But there is a disconnect between what he says about politics in the state and how he has risen through the ranks of the Democratic party.

The Hill:

Launching his campaign, Biss promised to move the state away from the "billionaires and machine politicians," adding that House Speaker Michael Madigan, the dean of Illinois Democratic politics, has "been there too long." 

“We need to take our system back from the billionaires and the machine politicians whose voices are heard while the rest of us have been locked out,” Biss said in a Facebook Live video kicking off his bid. 

But Biss, like most Illinois Democrats and his gubernatorial primary rivals, has benefitted from a lot of money from Madigan and those in his orbit. 

And Biss led the Illinois-based super PAC “Leading Illinois for Tomorrow,” or LIFT, last year, which filled its coffers with millions from Madigan and his top allies. 

The group started in September, two months before Election Day. In that short amount of time, it raised and ultimately spent $10 million hammering current Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner by tying him to then-Republican nominee Donald Trump, who lost the state by nearly 20 percentage points. 

Biss told The Hill on Friday that the PAC “was a completely unified Democratic effort because the Democratic Party was under attack.” He added that his work for the PAC is consistent with his values as a “loyal Democrat who has been usually critical of the Speaker as a Democrat in this legislature.” 

“I’m a lifelong progressive Democrat and I fight for Democratic values and candidates, but I also fight to reform the Democratic Party,” Biss told The Hill in an interview Friday. 

“I don’t just think those things can coexist, they have to coexist.” 

The super PAC’s contributors list doubles as a who’s who of donors in Madigan’s circle, including the speaker himself. Madigan has been the state House speaker since 1983 and also serves as the state party chair, so he has his fingers on the pulse of all things Democratic in the Land of Lincoln. 

Madigan’s campaign committee gave the group $500,000, the largest donation from his campaign to a political organization aside from the state Democratic Party, according to data compiled by The Illinois Campaign for Political Reform.

The campaign committee for Illinois attorney general Lisa Madigan, speaker’s daughter, gave another $150,000. 

Biss is either a self-deluded fool or very clever. Does he really think those donations from Madigan and his cronies come without strings attached? I doubt it. He knows the score as well as any Democrat in the state. He knows you don't cross Madigan without preparing for a war - a war he cannot possibly win.

So one has to assume that Biss is paying lip service to the idea that he's a Democratic "independent" willing to take on a heavyweight like Madigan. In truth, Bliss's "reforms" will only go as far as Madigan allows them to go. And that won't be very darn far.

Biss no doubt knows the fate of all "reformers" in Illinois; you either play ball with the Machine by being absorbed, or disappear into political oblivion. Biss has chosen absorption but will keep up the pretense of being independent. 

And the cynical voters of Illinois who keep electing these toads will get exactly what they deserve.


If you experience technical problems, please write to