House Black Caucus to host candidate forum for speaker position

The caucus sent a notice to legislators announcing a virtual candidate forum Saturday morning.

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The Illinois House of Representatives in 2016.

The Illinois House of Representatives.

AP file

The Illinois House Black Caucus plans to host a candidate forum Saturday for any state rep — Republican or Democrat — interested in succeeding Speaker Michael Madigan in the lower chamber’s top leadership spot.

The caucus sent a notice to legislators Thursday announcing the plan to host a virtual candidate forum for those interested in seeking the position.

Members of the House have until noon Friday to make their interest known to Rep. Camille Lilly, D-Chicago, who chairs the caucus, according to the release. The forum was first reported by Capitol Fax.

Steve Brown, a spokesman for the speaker, said Madigan plans to take part.

Lilly said it will be a private forum for the candidates.

“We wanted to open it up to those who are interested [in being speaker] and we wanted to make ourselves available,” Lilly said.

Rep. La Shawn Ford, D-Chicago, has said he supports Madigan but “I think there should always be a plan B.”

“We need a speaker of the house and, right now, we don’t have a candidate with 60 votes to be speaker. So that means we have problems as Democrats and as a state. … I’m interested in hearing who else could be speaker, who may have a plan,” Ford said.

If all 19 members who’ve said they won’t vote for Madigan hold to their statements, the speaker is six votes short of keeping the position he’s held for all but two years since 1983.

State Rep. Kathleen Willis, chair of the House Democratic Caucus, broke ranks Tuesday with her announcement that she won’t vote for Madigan to retain the speaker’s gavel, making her the 19th House Democrat — and the first member of the chamber’s party leadership — to say they won’t be voting for the embattled veteran legislative leader.

Willis said in a statement to her fellow Democratic legislators that she decided to oppose Madigan’s bid to be speaker in the next General Assembly after “a lot of thought and discussion with my family.”

Other reps made their decisions known after ComEd was indicted for bribery in July and a close confidant of the speaker and three others were indicted about two weeks ago.

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