SPRINGFIELD – Considering how she dismantled her opponents in the last two elections, three-term Attorney General Lisa Madigan's impressive fundraising in the first three months of this year suggests she's looking to broaden her horizons – with, for example, a bid for governor in 2014.
Madigan reported raising $831,000 in the first quarter of 2013, eclipsing what she raised in all of last year and in the first six months of 2009, when she was last gearing up for a statewide race.
The Chicago Democrat's campaign finance report, filed with the State Board of Elections late Monday, showed her campaign operation outperformed Gov. Pat Quinn's, which brought in $565,000 during the same period.
As of April 1, Madigan, who has yet to decide whether to challenge Quinn in next spring's primary, had $4.4 million in the bank compared with $1.5 million for Quinn, who has said he'll seek election to a second full term in 2014.
In a statement released by her campaign Tuesday, Madigan said she's "taking steps to ensure that I have the financial and political resources for another campaign," including a goal "to raise the same amount this quarter as we did for the whole of last year."
That doesn't sound like a candidate for re-election to an office that she won in 2006 and 2010 with at least 65 percent of the vote each time. If she sought re-election to a fourth term, her Republican opponent would likely be a "sacrificial lamb," said campaign finance expert Kent Redfield.
"She's been more aggressive. There's no reason to be more aggressive if you've got a cakewalk for being re-elected attorney general," said Redfield, professor emeritus at the University of Illinois at Springfield. "She's clearly keeping her options open."
According to a statement from Quinn's campaign office, his bank account shows a healthier balance than he had in mid-2009, after he had been elevated to the governor's office following the impeachment and ouster of his predecessor, Rod Blagojevich. "The governor went on to raise more than $20 million by the end of the 2010 campaign," the statement said.
Redfield said it's important for candidates to raise money sooner because of campaign fundraising limits that will be in effect for the first time on statewide races in 2014. Born of the runaway fundraising by the impeached and now-imprisoned Blagojevich, individual contributions are limited to $5,300 per primary and general election and $10,500 from corporations or labor unions.
Blagojevich, whom Quinn replaced in 2009 when Blagojevich was impeached and removed from office, raised unprecedented amounts of money in two campaigns for governor, and donors were often given plum government jobs or prestigious board positions. Limits, which governed legislative elections last fall, force candidates to seek money from a greater variety of sources, said David Morrison, acting executive director of the Illinois Campaign for Political Reform.
"We've not seen contribution limits have an adverse effect on fundraising," Morrison said. "If anything, they've forced candidates to broaden their base a bit, to go out to more donors, knowing that they cannot rely on a small number of donors for big contributions."
That could put Quinn at a disadvantage because he relied on large contributions from labor organizations to narrowly defeat GOP Sen. Bill Brady, of Bloomington, in 2010, said Redfield.
"Insofar as you need to raise money in smaller amounts from a larger number of groups and individuals, it's not something he's historically shown he has a passion for or is particularly good at," Redfield said.
Quinn's campaign said, however, that the first-quarter report "shows the governor has and will have significant support in his bid for re-election."
Democrat Bill Daley, a former chief of staff to President Bill Clinton and the brother and son of past Chicago mayors, has said he's considering a run but has yet to form a fundraising arm.
Among possible GOP candidates, political newcomer Bruce Rauner, a venture capitalist from Winnetka, raised $1.3 million, including $249,000 from personal funds. State Treasurer Dan Rutherford raised $309,000 and had $740,000 in the bank.
Brady's gubernatorial campaign fund collected no money but had $200,000 on hand and Sen. Kirk Dillard, of Hinsdale, who finished second to Brady in the 2010 Republican primary, raised $112,000 in his state senate fund but had just $34,000 available.
U.S. Rep. Aaron Schock, a Peoria Republican who has hinted at a run for governor, had $2.7 million in his congressional campaign fund. Redfield said he would be able to transfer money into a state campaign fund because he raised the money under federal election rules, which are tougher than Illinois law.