Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan said Thursday that she expects Gov. Pat Quinn to rewrite a compromise measure to legalize the concealed carrying of firearms in public.
Madigan, speaking at a luncheon discussion hosted by the pro-Democratic women's campaign fund EMILY's List, also said female political candidates need to show voters they can be tough in making hard decisions. At the same time, the wife and mother of two children said being actively involved in family will help "soften you" in the public's mind.
Once again Madigan, the daughter of powerful House Speaker and state Democratic Chairman Michael Madigan, offered no timetable for a decision on whether she will enter the Democratic governor primary against Quinn. The governor already has said he will seek re-election, and former White House chief of staff Bill Daley, brother of former Mayor Richard M. Daley, has formed an exploratory committee.
Asked what she meant by telling an audience she would decide "sooner rather than later," the attorney general replied, "That's all it means. That's my sense of things. I don't have a deadline."
As attorney general, Madigan has successfully sought to put a hold on a federal appeals court ruling that tossed out the state's ban on carrying a concealed firearm. She has held off on appealing the ruling to the U.S. Supreme Court as she waits to see whether a compromise bill enacted in the closing days of the spring session last month is signed into law.
Many lawmakers expect Quinn to use the issue to try to help himself politically, taking advantage of his amendatory veto powers to rewrite the bill to make it more stringent. On Thursday, Madigan said she agreed that the governor would rewrite the bill. Quinn has not said what he plans to do, other than to indicate he will act in the interest of public safety.
Madigan said she had supported legislation that would give law enforcement more leeway to issue concealed carry permits — so-called may-issue legislation — rather than the way the compromise was written. The measure awaiting Quinn's action puts the onus on law enforcement to deny a permit, which is known as shall-issue.
Still, she said, lawmakers "put in a lot of good protections in it, including increased mental health reporting (and) a very good list of where you cannot carry a concealed weapon."
She noted, however, that restaurant owners have been lobbying Quinn over a provision that would allow people to carry concealed firearms into their establishments if at least half of their revenues do not come from alcohol sales. She also said restaurant groups don't want to display signs to say they prohibit carrying concealed firearms.
But Madigan dodged on whether she would sign the compromise legislation if she were governor, saying she did not want to inject politics into the issue. She said she expected Quinn to act on the bill by early next week.
During the luncheon, which also featured U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius and City Treasurer Stephanie Neely, Madigan acknowledged Sebelius' statement that women candidates must counter a fear among voters that "women aren't tough enough."
"There's nothing easy these days. There's no easy solutions and there's so much gridlock. People demand tough. They also demand results," Madigan said.
But, she added, "There's always the concern of, well, 'Are you too tough? Are you going to become the 'b'-word?' And you really don't want that to happen. People sometimes often vote with their gut. They want to like you, all right? So, luckily in my circumstance, having a family helps. … It gives you a better appreciation of what a lot of people have to go through and it does also, I think in the public's mind, soften you, presuming you're actually engaged with your family and aren't just using them as political props."
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