Here's a suggestion for journalists, here and elsewhere: Ask would-be legislators, people running to be congressmen, senators, and state legislators who, if they are elected, they will vote for as head of their branch of the legislature.
For example, a person running for a House seat could be asked whether they plan to vote for Nancy Pelosi, a person running for the Senate could be asked whether they plan to vote for Harry Reid, and, in this state, a person running for a state house seat could be asked if they plan to vote for Speaker Frank Chopp.
It's a good question for two reasons; First, it is usually, as I said in the post title, the most important vote that the legislator will take in a session.
Second, it produces interesting results. In 2010, for example, a fellow blogger was able to get Democratic Congressman Rick Larsen to answer that question. His unease at having to admit that he was planning to vote for Nancy Pelosi was obvious, and told us something about him — and her.
But for a more vivid example, take a look at what happened when Chicago Tribune columnist John Kass tried to get Democratic candidates to say whether they planned to vote for the state Democratic boss, Speaker Michael Madigan.
Curiously enough, many of them didn't want to answer his question.
We called state Rep. Patrick Verschoore, D-Milan, of the 72nd Legislative District. A polite woman answered and said that Verschoore was in the office. But when we mentioned Madigan, an amazing thing happened. Verschoore disappeared.
"He must have stepped out," she said, then told us to leave a number. He didn't call back.
We also left a Madigan message with state Rep. Elaine Nekritz, D-Northbrook, of the 57th District. But no luck. Same with other Democrats, such as Des Plaines Mayor Marty Moylan, 55th District; state Rep. Michelle "Mom on a Mission" Mussman, Schaumburg, 56th District; and Scott Drury, a former federal prosecutor from Highwood, running in the 58th District.
There's more, but that should be enough to give you the idea. Sometimes what politicians won't say tells you more than what they will say.
Since I am addressing this suggestion to professional journalists, I probably don't have to add that, if a candidate does answer this question, you'll want to follow up and ask them why or why not.
Cross posted at Jim Miller on Politics.
(Speaker Madigan is probably safe, for now, from any state prosecutions. if you aren't sure why, take a look at the Illinois state attorney general.)Posted by Jim Miller at October 26, 2012 04:27 PM | Email This