A retired political analyst is still keeping his head in the game by suggesting it's Democrats with the less-than-stellar political legacy, especially as the state budget impasse drags on. Mike Lawrence, a former reporter and top-level advisor, is also a former director of the Paul Simon Public Policy Institute at Southern Illinois University, and says Democrats definitely look worse right now than Republicans. "The Democrats, right now, are perceived as putting us where we are," says Lawrence. Lawrence says Democrats can change that.
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"Particularly, when you have a Republican Governor who's going to get the blame for a lot of the tough action that's needed, I think it's in [Democrats'] interest to negotiate." That said, Lawrence admits Governor Bruce Rauner has put Democrats in a tough position because of things like the Right to Work legislation, but Republicans also haven't done a good job laying out their positions. University of Illinois-Springfield Political Science professor Kent Redfield says while most of the attention is given to Governor Bruce Rauner and House Speaker Mike Madigan, there's one person who can't be thought of as, in his words, "a junior partner in all this." "[Senate President] John Cullerton is an incredibly smart, skilled politician who, frankly, has more of a unified and strong caucus in terms of getting things done than [House Speaker] Mike Madigan does," says Redfield. Redfield says he thinks current legislative leaders have become sort-of insulated themselves, but has always believed that strong executive leadership is the best way to run state government, so Rauner needs to show that now in order to get a budget passed.