Speaker Madigan Among Lead Topics At Democratic Gubernatorial Debate

February 22, 2018
Democratic candidates for governor before a deabte Wednesday at the University of Illinois Springfield. From left: J.B. Pritzker, Tio Hardiman, Bob Daiber and Daniel Biss. Robert Marshall hadn't arrived yet and Chris Kennedy withdrew after a bac

Democratic candidates for governor before a deabte Wednesday at the University of Illinois Springfield. From left: J.B. Pritzker, Tio Hardiman, Bob Daiber and Daniel Biss. Robert Marshall hadn't arrived yet and Chris Kennedy withdrew after a back injury.

Brian Mackey/NPR Illinois

Five of the Democrats running for Illinois governor met at a debate Wednesday night in Springfield. Among the prime topics was House Speaker Michael Madigan’s handling of harassment in his political organization.

In less than two weeks, Madigan let go of two top aides — one for making unwanted advances, the other apparently for bullying subordinates and candidates.

State Sen. Daniel Biss says it’s time for Madigan to step down as head of the state Democratic Party. And Biss criticized Hyatt hotel heir J.B. Pritzker for refusing to agree.

“It took J.B. Pritzker a week to get permission from Mike Madigan to even name him in talking about the sexual harassment cover-up,” Biss said.

Pritzker replied: “It’s utterly ridiculous what Dan Biss has said."

But Pritzker has been reluctant to pile on the speaker, who's been criticized for moving too slowly and secretly in addressing complaints.

Pritzker is calling for an independent investigation.

Biss and Pritzker's sparring left an opening for other candidates like anti-violence activist Tio Hardiman.

“The reason I would like for everyone to consider voting for myself and my running mate Patricia Avery, is because I don’t have nothing to do with none of that mess. OK? I just want to put that out there,” Haridman said.

Other candidates appearing at the debate were Bob Daiber and Robert Marshall.

Chris Kennedy’s campaign says he injured his back while exercising Wednesday. They say he followed his doctor’s advice to avoid traveling to Springfield.

You can listen to the full debate below, which was sponsored by the University of Illinois Springfield, the State Journal-Register and WMAY Radio.

Story source: Illinois Public Radio