CHICAGO
10/31/2008 05:12 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

Constitutional Convention Gaining Momentum

The push for an Illinois constitutional convention picked up steam Tuesday with news that Cook County Assessor James Houlihan is supporting the Nov. 4 ballot measure that would allow for a con-con.

Houlihan will "bring some money to the table," Greg Hinz reports in Crain's Chicago Business.

The Cook County Democrat won't say how much, but it could be substantial, since his political fund had $782,000 in the bank as of June 30, according to a disclosure report filed with the state Board of Elections.

In addition, pro forces have hired top political consultant Michael Noonan. The former aide to Illinois House Speaker Michael J. Madigan managed the successful race of daughter Lisa Madigan for Illinois attorney general and ran the campaign of Cook County Board President Todd Stroger.

Influential Springfield chronicler Rich Miller, a vocal con-con supporter, offered a personal rationale for the push in his syndicated column Tuesday:

One of the biggest Statehouse problems is that legislative leaders can serve as long as they can get themselves re-elected. I started to notice many moons ago that with every new session I covered, I gained a bit more respect and influence. That happens for pretty much everyone who sticks around. And it's even more true for leaders, like the House speaker and Senate president, because they have so much institutional power to begin with.

Limiting a leader to 10 years of controlling the gavel would allow the Statehouse a fresh start on a regular basis.

Con-con opponents, long the better funded of the two sides, have seen fundraising slow in the current economy, Crain's reports.

Business groups had pledged to raise $3 million to $5 million to oppose con-con, but amid a sour economy, that effort is lagging, according to a source close to the matter.