Tuesday, November 08, 2005

He Wants to Be in the Minority!

Members are signing another tune today after longtime legislator and erstwhile Minority Leader Lee Daniels announced his retirement, after what will be thirty years in the Illinois House. For the five minutes when the GOP were in control, from 994-1996, Daniels was speaker.

This from the Sun Times:
Rep. Lee Daniels (R-Elmhurst) said he has accepted the chairmanship of a $3.5 million capital drive for Sanguin Services, a Cicero-based nonprofit that's geared toward people with disabilities.

It's more than likely that this was coupled with Topinka's non-announcement announcement to reduce publicity. It's also likely that Topinka would benefit from Daniels's attrition, lest there be more cycles of accusations about her "ties" to him.

Daniels's departure will no doubt cool the still flaming tempers of many of his acolytes, or at least, those that remain. Bill Black was welcomed back into the fold by Cross after the coup and now serves as a Deputy Min. Leader. Former maj. leader Bob Churchill-who, as a bitter Daniels protege has heretofore only erected obstacles to Cross's progress, will lose his seat in his bid for the US House from CD-8. And so a dark chapter in Illinois history comes to a close.

Like a literary villain, Daniels has his redeeming qualities. He has been a tireless advocate on behalf of the developmentally disabled, and serves as chairman of the Committee on Developmental Disabilities and Mental Illness. Daniels has always been as worthy of pity as contempt. Daniels was a hard-hitting striver who first became minority leader at the age forty-four and never took his eyes off the Speaker's chair since. Still, even at the mid-90s acme of GOP dominance in Springfield, Lee never seemed to come out of Pate Phillip's sizeable umbra. In comparison with the former senate president-in both deeds and demeanor-Daniels is a mild figure, almost relatable.

The fervor over Tom DeLay exposes a not-so-well-documented political irony: the fact that his misdeeds are equaled, if not exceeded, by someone far closer to home: Lee Daniels. Daniels is just as culpable as the former majority leader but is ignored: no Democrat wants to appreciate the nuances of Illinois House Republican leadership, and will avoid giving any credit whatsoever to Cross if at all possible. If anything, Daniels's exist should set a political stage on which Cross alone stars-and that is something for which all of us should be thankful.

UPDATE: Angry Jolietan suggests Dennis Rebboletti, a Will County prosecutor, as a potential successor. Rebboletti had been backed by Lee in his unsuccessful GOP primary bid for Pate Phillip's former seat, being defeated by Carole Pankau.

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