Term Limits: One Step Back, One Step Forward

Apr 30, 2014

The General Assembly's Republican leaders, Rep. Jim Durkin and Sen. Christine Radogno, present their constitutional amendment to hold executive officers to two terms.
Credit Amanda Vinicky

  Even as Democrats killed off one proposal to institute term limits in Illinois, another is moving ahead.

First, the one that for all practical purposes is dead: it was a last minute push by Republican legislative leaders to limit the governor and other executive officers to two terms.

Getting rid of well-known incumbents could be a way for Republicans, who've had a hard time winning statewide office in recent years, to make inroads.

But Senate GOP Leader Christine Radogno insists that's not the objective. "It's very difficult to recruit candidates for some of these races because of the overwhelming power of incumbency," Radogno says. "And that was the case when Republicans had it as well as Democrats. We need to be careful that this is about good policy going forward, it's not about gigging the other side."

Still, Democrats rebuffed the effort, refusing to let it out of an obscure Senate subcommittee.

Sen. James Clayborne, D-Belleville, voted against it, noting that both Radogno and House Republican Leader Jim Durkin have each had lengthy careers as legislators. "If I propose a constitutional amendment that I believe will diminish incumbency, will allow people with great ideas and fresh ideas to come into ... these chambers, then I should be willing to practice," he says.

Despite Clayborne's prodding, neither Durkin nor Radogno would commit to any self-imposed limit on their terms as leaders.

Meanwhile, an unrelated plan to limit legislators' terms is moving ahead today. A campaign led by Republican candidate for governor Bruce Rauner is scheduled to submit thousands of petitions to put that question on the November ballot.

He'll be in Springfield today to help submit the petitions.