CHICAGO — After months of attacks from Republican candidates, House Speaker Michael Madigan fired back Wednesday saying the GOP strategy of making this election a referendum about him was a failure.
A statement released Wednesday that was from "Chairman Madigan and the Democratic Party of Illinois" did not mince words about the just-concluded campaign. Madigan is also chair of the state Democratic Party.
"Last night's election results definitively proved that the Rauner Republican playbook of attempting to make the entire 2018 election a referendum on Speaker Madigan, to distract from Republicans' record, is a failure," the memo said. "Rauner and the Republican Party spent several years and hundreds of millions of dollars focused on tearing down one man and last night that strategy definitely failed for Republicans up and down the ballot who joined the effort."
During Tuesday's elections, House Democrats picked up six seats which will now give them 73 votes in the House. With a Democratic governor, Madigan doesn't need the extra votes to override vetoes, but it does give him a cushion to shield vulnerable members from having to vote for controversial measures.
Senate Democrats also picked up one seat and may pick up a couple of more as really close races are finally decided.
Tying Democratic candidates to Madigan was a tactic used by Republicans running for federal office, statewide office and for legislative seats. Polls regularly show Madigan, the longest serving House Speaker in the nation, is unpopular with voters. It apparently wasn't much of a factor in the election.
"Of the dozens of Illinois Republicans that ran on a platform tying their opponents to Speaker Madigan, nearly every one lost," the statement said. "Some attempts were hateful, others laughable, including suggestions that the Speaker is committing acts of violence against others, but after the votes have been counted, the tactic was a clear failure."
The memo contended the effort failed because Madigan and the Democratic Party "are champions of smart economic and social policies that better the lives of Illinoisans and create a state that works for all of us."
Neither the Rauner campaign nor the state Republican Party responded to a request for comment.