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Speaker Madigan Among Lead Topics At Democratic Gubernatorial Debate

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 handing 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.

Other candidates appearing at the debate were Bob Daiber, Tio Hardiman, 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.

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.
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