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‘Madigan doesn’t have enough votes’ as longtime Speaker’s post debated in closed caucus meeting

In their first round of voting, Democrats chose between Madigan and Reps. Ann Williams, D-Chicago, Stephanie Kifowit, D-Oswego, and Kathleen Willis, D-Addison, with Madigan the lead vote-getter but without enough to remain speaker.

Potential candidates for speaker, left to right: House Democratic Caucus Chair Kathleen Willis; House Speaker Mike Madigan; state Rep. Stephanie A. Kifowit; state Rep. Ann Williams.
Candidates for speaker, left to right: House Democratic Caucus Chair Kathleen Willis; House Speaker Michael Madigan; state Rep. Stephanie A. Kifowit; state Rep. Ann Williams.
Rich Hein; Neal Earley; Rich Hein; Erin Brown/Sun-Times file.

SPRINGFIELD — Fifty-one House Democrats voted for Speaker Michael Madigan to remain in the powerful position he’s held for almost four decades in a closed caucus meeting Sunday evening.

To remain speaker, Madigan needs to garner 60 votes. Though he was shy of that magic number, the powerful Southwest Side Democrat was the closest to winning the seat.

Sources in the room say Rep. Ann Williams, D-Chicago, received 18 votes. Rep. Stephanie Kifowit, D-Oswego, who was the first to announce a bid against Madigan, received three votes.

Rep. Kathleen Willis, D-Addison, was in the race as of Sunday morning but dropped out Sunday evening to support Williams, sources told the Chicago Sun-Times.

Rep. Kelly Cassidy, D-Chicago, was the sole member to vote present. She said she’d decided to do so even after Willis had dropped out, and she “wanted to show respect to these women who made this bold choice at this time.”

“We’re not there yet,” Cassidy said. “What we learned tonight is that Speaker Madigan doesn’t have enough votes ... I’m pretty certain that there are folks who are going to suggest that that means that a good Democrat would make that switch; I would argue that a good Democrat would argue that you’re not capable of uniting your caucus and step out of the way to let someone who can, do so.”

A spokesman for Madigan said he plans to continue talking to members to be the speaker of the 102nd General Assembly. The House election for speaker is set to occur Jan. 13.

Nineteen members of the House have said Sunday morning they weren’t wavering from their position to not vote for him.

“After meeting the past two days in Springfield, and having had the opportunity to participate in multiple candidate forums in the Speaker’s election, our position has not changed,” the joint statement read. “We will not be supporting Michael J. Madigan for Speaker of the Illinois House at any stage of the voting process. It is time for new Democratic leadership in the Illinois House.”

Illinois lawmakers returned Sunday for the third day of lame duck session, discussing legislation on higher education, police reform and the state’s cannabis lottery system before new members are sworn in Wednesday.

In the Senate, which convened in its chambers in the Capitol, members of the executive committee took up two bills — floor amendment one to HB2170 and senate amendment three to HB2685 — which are the legislation focused on the higher education and economic equity pieces of the Legislative Black Caucus’ agenda, respectively.

A repeal of a bill that limits the Chicago Teachers Union’s bargaining rights also advanced.

Senate President Don Harmon, D-Oak Park, introduced an amendment to HB3959 on behalf of Sen. Cristina Castro, who was absent. That amendment creates a new lottery for 75 additional adult use cannabis dispensary licenses for those in the first round who scored high but “did not make the cut top for the first 75 licenses,” Harmon said.

The amendment also creates a “cut score,” which would allow anyone over a certain cut score to be eligible to participate in future licensing rounds. The amendment also makes changes to a disparity study, Harmon said, though he didn’t provide details about those changes.

Those pieces of legislation could be voted on as soon as Monday in the Senate.

In the House, lawmakers continued to discuss the criminal justice proposal crafted by the Black Caucus, which is Senate amendment two to HB163.

James Black, the chief of police for the Crystal Lake Police Department and the head of the state’s Association of Chiefs of Police, testified before the House’s Criminal Judiciary Committee that the group wants “to work with members of the General Assembly … we want to be part of the solution, not part of the problem, but the bill, as written, will “destroy law enforcement’s ability to keep our communities safe.”

Sen. Elgie Sims, D-Chicago, said in a news conference, “Members of the Black community want the same treatment as anyone else,” and members of law enforcement have not provided “concrete proposals.”

Rep. Darren Bailey, R-Xenia, collapsed Sunday afternoon and could be seen lying on the floor of the Bank of Springfield Center, where representatives are meeting to conduct their socially distanced session.

Rep. Darren Bailey, R-Xenia, is wheeled out of the Bank of Springfield Center Sunday afternoon after experiencing a medical emergency. | BlueRoom Stream

House Republican Leader Jim Durkin, R-Western Springs, said Bailey has been experiencing “gastrointestinal issues” and hadn’t eaten, “which led to him passing out on the floor” and hitting his head.

“We have our disagreements on many issues, but at the end of the day we are a family, and let’s remember that,” Durkin said.