(CBS) — Just how much does Illinois House Speaker Mike Madigan support women’s rights?
That’s the question being raised by a woman who’s challenging a long-time Madigan ally in a south suburban race for state representative.
CBS 2 Political Reporter Derrick Blakley has more.
“I don’t think Mike Madigan has been sensitive to the issue of sexual harassment,” says Mary Carvlin, Democratic candidate for state representative.
Carvlin, an elementary school teacher and mother of two, is taking on one of Madigan’s strongest allies, state Rep. Bob Rita, alleging that Madigan’s support for Rita shows he’s no friend of women.
“Where was he 16 years ago, when my opponent Bob Rita was on trial for beating a woman?” she asks.
Back in 2002, Rita was charged with domestic battery and criminal trespass for allegedly beating up an ex-girlfriend. A jury found him not guilty, but the trial judge also extended an order of protection for the woman, against Rita, for two years.
“Mike Madigan had the opportunity to politely disown Bob Rita,” Carvlin says.
At the time, Lisa Madigan, then running for Illinois attorney general, called for Rita to withdraw.
But her father, Mike Madigan, stood with Rita — and still does, according to a spokesman.
For two days, Blakley looked around Blue Island, trying to get Rita’s side of the story – to no avail. He also did not return messages.
Carvlin, the opponent, claims Madigan and Rita placed a so-called ghost candidate on the ballot — another woman — in an effort to confuse voters and split the women’s vote.