TODD MAISCH June 13, 1965-June 1, 2023

The voice for Illinois businesses

Todd Maisch never held elective office, but he was a fixture in Illinois politics for more than 30 years.

Tall, handsome, always smiling, his face was one of the best-known in the Statehouse.

At a time when folks jump from job to job, Maisch had the same employer for almost 30 years. As president of the Illinois Chamber of Commerce, he was the voice for Illinois businesses.

Lobbyists are often called the "third house" in Illinois politics. If that's the case, Maisch may well have been their presiding officer.

The Illinois Chamber is the voice of the state's business community and one of the top contributors to political campaigns.

The State Journal-Register once dubbed Todd and his wife, Kim, the "power couple" for its Valentine's Day edition. While Todd lobbied for the Chamber, which often is viewed as representing big business, Kim advocated for the National Federation of Independent Business, which speaks for the state's small business community.

The pair often sat opposite Tim Drea, president of the Illinois AFL-CIO, the voice of organized labor. Legislative leaders would ask them to negotiate legislation dealing with matters such as workers' compensation and unemployment insurance.

"Todd was a tough negotiator and a passionate proponent for his members," Drea told Illinois Times. "Todd was just very, very knowledgeable about each issue. And even though he was a tough negotiator, there was always civility and respect from Todd for the positions of working families."

Maisch died June 1 at the age of 57. The family did not share a cause of death.

He joined the Chamber in 1994 and had served as president and CEO since 2014. Before joining the Chamber, he worked on the Illinois House Republican staff.

It was then that he met Kim while a group of GOP staffers were hanging out at the Statehouse watering hole, Play it Again Sam's.

"This was in the early 90s, and he was going around the bar trying to get someone to go eat dinner with him," said Kim. "It was snowing out and everyone's like, 'No, wait. There's popcorn. Eat popcorn.' He's like, 'Well, I'm going.' And he comes back 10 minutes later, and I asked, 'Why are you back?' He goes, 'It was closed.' ... And I just remember thinking: he's kind of cute, tall, handsome. That's the first time I remember meeting him."

Theirs was a love affair that lasted from that day forward.

In June, Senate President Don Harmon, D-Oak Park, issued a written statement: "A fierce defender of and astute negotiator for the business community, Todd was also a genuinely likable person who could find the path forward among adversaries."

That likability may well have been his key to success.

"He had great vision," said Rob Carney, a lobbyist for Caterpillar. "He was passionate about whom he represented and the issues that he worked on, and he didn't care if you were a Republican or Democrat. If you were pro-Chamber, Todd wanted to work with you. And I think that he was very personable. He cared about people, and he treated everybody as a special individual."

Maisch was also on the board of the Share the Spirit Foundation, which provides shoes and socks to at-risk Springfield-area schoolchildren.

He is survived by his wife and his two sons.

Kim said many of their friends in the Springfield community had no idea about the influence her husband held.

"Todd was the guy in the pool throwing the football with the kids. Todd was the guy on the floor playing games, playing Uno. You know, he never carried himself like he was a big deal. And in his mind, I don't think he thought he was. He loved his job. He was very good at his job, but he didn't walk around like he owned the place."

Scott Reeder, a staff writer for Illinois Times, covered the Illinois General Assembly for many years and interviewed Todd Maisch numerous times.

Scott Reeder

Scott Reeder is a staff writer at Illinois Times.

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