Democrat Madigan Suspends Campaign for Illinois House Speaker

Democrat Madigan Suspends Campaign for Illinois House Speaker
Illinois House Speaker Mike Madigan speaks in Springfield, Ill., on Jan. 9, 2019. (Justin L. Fowler/The State Journal-Register via AP)
Zachary Stieber

Longtime Illinois House Speaker Mike Madigan said he’s suspended his campaign for the post in the next term.

“This is not a withdrawal,” Madigan, a Democrat, said in a statement on Jan. 11. “I have suspended my campaign for Speaker. As I have said many times in the past, I have always put the best interest of the House Democratic Caucus and our members first.

“The House Democratic Caucus can work to find someone, other than me, to get 60 votes for Speaker.”

Madigan, a Democrat, has spent decades as speaker, with a 2-year gap when Republicans briefly took control of the House in the mid-90s.

Democrats hold a 73–35 majority in the new legislative session, which begins Jan. 13, but must find a candidate for speaker who can get 60 votes.

State Reps. Ann Williams, Stephanie Kifowit, and Kathleen Willis are vying to win the race.

“We are united behind that we are not voting for Mike Madigan as speaker,” state Rep. Kelly Cassidy, a Democrat, told The State Journal-Register.
Madigan’s support dwindled after being linked to bribes paid by Commonwealth Edison, a utility provider, last year. Four of his associates were charged with bribery. Madigan wasn’t charged and has said he did nothing wrong.

In a joint statement on Jan. 10, 19 Democratic House members said they hadn’t changed their minds on opposing Madigan.

“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 group said.

A vote later on Jan. 10 saw no candidate reach the required threshold.

Williams said in a statement after the vote: “Today’s vote makes clear the House Democratic Caucus is ready for a change in leadership. I want to thank Representative Kathy Willis and Representative Stephanie Kifowit in joining me on this journey to elect Illinois’ first woman Speaker. I am grateful for the support of so many of my colleagues and will continue to work to earn the support of the rest and unify the caucus.”