SPRINGFIELD (The Center Square) – Michael Madigan’s decades-long tenure as Illinois Speaker of the House is in question because he doesn’t appear to have majority support, and it’s setting up what is likely to be a tumultuous start for the new legislature.
Madigan (D-Chicago) is without the majority support to secure another term as speaker. However, the first vote the new Illinois House will take could take some time.
At least 19 or 20 House Democrats have now said they won’t support Madigan for another term. He’s been in that position for all but two years since 1983.
Flowers, Ford: Opposers need to “fall back in line” behind Madigan
State Rep. Mary Flowers (D-Chicago) said Madigan is the only man to get the job done. She also states that the Democrats that oppose him should fall back in line.
“You want me to acquiesce to 19 when I have 50-some-more odd people out there that haven’t said anything or whatever,” Flowers says. “And surely only one is a Black Caucus member.”
“So, we’re still ahead of the game. [Black Caucus] has 21 that’s for [Madigan],” adds Flowers.
State Rep. LaShawn Ford (D-Chicago) said Madigan has his support because he is focused on increasing tax revenue to fund programs Ford said are important to his constituents.
“Definitely only one candidate that felt they had a plan to meet the needs of the most vulnerable populations of the state,” Ford said. “And that was Michael Madigan.”
Democrats wary of Madigan’s involvement in ComEd scandal
The cloud of the ComEd bribery scheme and other behavior over the years has others in the Democratic Caucus opposing the speaker. Madigan has been tied to a nearly decade-long bribery scheme. ComEd officials have admitted to it in order to curry favor with the speaker in exchange for favorable legislation.
State Rep. Kathleen Willis, who is in House leadership, said she will not support Madigan.
“After a lot of thought and discussion with my family, I have come to the decision to let it be known that I will not be voting for Michael J. Madigan as Speaker for the 102nd General Assembly,” Willis (D-Addison) said in a letter published to a political blog.
House speaker race will end up with multiple voting rounds
Politics professor Kent Redfield said the loggerheads are likely to lead to multiple ballots before a speaker is chosen, even if it’s Madigan.
“The Democrats [could] coalesce around either a caretaker or someone who is perceived as, that everybody can agree on, that’s gonna be a strong leader but not the kind of consolidation of power that you had under Madigan,” Redfield said. “It’s just one more fascinating turn in a year that’s been beyond crazy.”
The House convenes on Jan. 13 in Springfield.
Reporting by Greg Bishop
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