Illinois House Black Caucus backs Madigan for speaker to ‘provide strong, consistent leadership’

The Black Caucus suggested Madigan gives lawmakers the best chance of passing an ambitious legislative agenda in response to the issues raised by the Black Lives Matter movement and civil unrest following the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis.

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Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan in 2015.

Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan speaks to reporters before walking into the governor’s office at the Illinois State Capitol in 2015.

Seth Perlman/AP file

Members of the Illinois House Black Caucus announced Wednesday night their group support for embattled Speaker Michael Madigan to remain in his position for another term, complicating the effort to remove him.

The move had been expected since the caucus heard pitches Saturday from Madigan and his only announced opponent, state Rep. Stephanie Kifowit of Oswego, in a meeting orchestrated by the speaker’s allies.

“After analysis, we believe our caucus is in a more advantageous position under the leadership of Speaker Madigan to deliver on our priorities,” the group said in a statement.

The Black Caucus has spent the last half of the year preparing an ambitious legislative agenda in response to the issues raised by the Black Lives Matter movement and civil unrest following the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis.

The lawmakers suggested Madigan gives them the best chance of passing it.

“We need a Speaker that will provide strong, consistent leadership and support for the challenges ahead,”the statement added.

Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan after winning his 17th term as speaker at Sangamon Auditorium at the University of Illinois-Springfield in 2017.

Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan after winning his 17th term as speaker at Sangamon Auditorium at the University of Illinois-Springfield in 2017.

Ted Schurter/The State Journal-Register via AP file

The statement made no mention of the ongoing federal investigation of the powerful Southwest Side Democrat in connection with the alleged efforts of Commonwealth Edison officials to curry favor with the speaker by hiring his political allies in no show jobs. Four people, including Madigan confidant Michael McClain, were named in the most recent indictment.Madigan has not been charged and has denied any wrongdoing.

So far, nineteen Democratic members of the Illinois House have announced they will not support Madigan’s re-election, which would leave him shy of the 60 votes needed to maintain his grip on the gavel he has held for nearly 40 years.

But if the 22-member Black Caucus sticks to its guns, nobody else could get the necessary 60 votes either.

One Black Caucus member, state Rep. Maurice West of Rockford, is among the legislators who has declared his opposition to Madigan remaining as speaker.

At Saturday’s meeting reported exclusively by the Sun-Times, Madigan pledged his support to the Black Caucus agenda — and to raise the state’s income tax if Gov. J.B. Pritzker seeks to do so.

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