Whether at the Illinois State Fair, in the Capitol or at political party gatherings elsewhere in Springfield, last week presented many opportunities to take the political pulse of Illinois.
With that in mind, here are some observations from my time last week on the fairgrounds and beyond.
RAUNER VS. MADIGAN/CULLERTON
The fight between Gov. Bruce Rauner and the General Assembly's two Democratic leaders -- House Speaker Michael Madigan and Senate President John Cullerton -- got especially fierce last week. It started with Rauner, fresh off his Harley at Governor's Day at the fair, asserting that if Cullerton's Senate Democrats overrode Rauner's veto of an important union arbitration bill, it would prove Cullerton is under the control of Madigan.
In the charged atmosphere of Springfield politics at the moment, this had the feeling of a playground challenge by the new kid trying to break up the old faction. "You're afraid to challenge him 'cause you're chicken!"
But Cullerton and the Democrats skipped the traditional playground retorts and taunts, moving swiftly later that afternoon to defy Rauner and override his veto. The following morning, Cullerton's response encapsulated the philosophical differences between Republicans and Democrats on almost every issue in Springfield:
Cullerton's remarks followed Madigan's statement from the same podium that Democrats in Illinois are involved in an "epic struggle" with Rauner.
In his weekly column this week, Capitol Fax publisher Rich Miller maps out a scenario in which the words and events of Aug. 19-20 might lead to a reconciliation in the budget standoff between Rauner and the Democrats. Miller is an astute and experienced observer of Springfield, so his analysis carries some weight. But from my view, I saw nothing but two sides digging their trenches even deeper.
Check out a recap of the other political drama at the Illinois State Fair at Reboot Illinois, including some surrounding the 2016 U.S. Senate race in Illinois and the Illinois comptroller special election.
Some Illinois government employees also encountered some drama that had nothing to do with politics last week. Six state government emails were found among the list of hacked accounts at the dating site Ashley Madison, which encourages married users to have affairs. The Illinois News Network's Mark Fitton has more on the local angle of this international story at Reboot Illinois.