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Another rep throws hat in the ring, will challenge Madigan for Illinois House speaker

Rep. Ann Williams, D-Chicago, announced her decision to challenge incumbent Speaker Michael Madigan for the job Wednesday, hours before a House Women’s Caucus candidate forum featuring candidates for the job.

Rep. Ann Williams, D-Chicago, addresses the General Assembly.
Rep. Ann Williams, D-Chicago, addresses the General Assembly.
Sun-Times file

A North Side Democrat joined the race against Speaker Michael Madigan for the House’s top leadership position Wednesday, saying the state needs a leader who “puts the people of Illinois first.”

Rep. Ann Williams, D-Chicago, announced her decision to challenge Madigan for the job Wednesday, hours before a House Women’s Caucus candidate forum on the speaker’s position. Williams on Monday said she was making calls to colleagues about the post.

Williams, in her fifth House term, joins House Democratic Caucus Chair Kathleen Willis and state Rep. Stephanie Kifowit, D-Oswego, who announced back in October that she would seek the House’s top leadership post.

In a press release announcing her decision, Williams said her colleagues, and Illinois residents, need someone who is “an experienced, pragmatic leader who can unify our caucus and build a bridge to the future.”

“Illinois is at a crossroads,” Williams’ statement reads in part. “Working moms can’t afford childcare. The pandemic has highlighted the racial inequities in our healthcare and justice systems. Our small business community is devastated. Yet, the Illinois House hasn’t met since May. We need a leader that puts the people of Illinois first … I am ready to lead.”

A spokesman for Madigan confirmed he will attend the forum hosted by the House Women’s Caucus; it starts at 3 p.m. Wednesday. He could find that caucus a less receptive audience than the House’s Black and Latino Caucuses, which endorsed Madigan last month after their candidate forums.

Democratic women have been the most vocal in their criticism of the powerful Southwest Side Democrat. Of the 19 members who’ve said they will not vote for Madigan to remain speaker, 13 are women. The caucus is not expected to make an endorsement.