© 2023 NPR Illinois
The Capital's NPR Network 'News & Community' Service
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations
Wake Up! Donate $91.90+ to the Year-End Drive and receive the 2023 Murrow Mug. Support continued journalism.

Dan Walker, Governor Who Fought The Machine, Dies At 92

Dan Walker at the 1973 Bud Billiken Day Parade
John H. White
National Archives

Former Illinois Gov. Dan Walker has died. The Democrat led the state from 1973 to 1977.

Walker came to fame in 1971 by literally walking the length of Illinois.

He spent much of his time fighting the Democratic machine. In Illinois in the 1970s, that meant fighting Chicago Mayor Richard J. Daley.

“I have been trying very hard to bring to this state a Democratic Party that is open. A Democratic Party that is responsive to people. And a Democratic Party that is representative of people all over the state of Illinois, and does not just respond top the wishes of one man in Chicago," he said during a campaign appearance in Decatur in 1975.

That fight made Walker a one-term governor, and his party wouldn’t regain Illinois’ top job until 2003.

Things got worse out of office. In the 1980s, Walker pleaded guilty to bank fraud and went to federal prison.

Family says Walker died Wednesday at the age of 92.

Brian Mackey formerly reported on state government and politics for NPR Illinois and a dozen other public radio stations across the state. Before that, he was A&E editor at The State Journal-Register and Statehouse bureau chief for the Chicago Daily Law Bulletin.
Related Stories