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Leading Illinois Democrats look to members of House to pick next speaker

(The Center Square) – It’s unclear if Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan will retain his role as speaker when the new legislature is seated Wednesday. While he suspended his campaign for Speaker, he said he hasn’t withdrawn his nomination.

The longtime House speaker said in a statement Monday he’s suspending his campaign for speaker so House Democrats can attempt to find someone else to get 60 votes.

One source said none of the three candidates had enough votes to get the position when polled Sunday, but Madigan had the most at 51, with the state Rep. Ann Williams as a runner up with 18 or 19.

Other names have been floated for possible consideration in the final days of lame-duck session.

Gov. J.B. Pritzker said Monday he just recently spoke with Madigan about making Illinois’ tax code more burdensome for businesses than the federal tax code.

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“Did I ask him to step down? No, I was in a conversation about getting things done,” Pritzker said. “He is still the speaker now. We’re trying to get decoupling done during this lame duck and as I’ve said the members of the House of Representatives will be voting on who their speaker is going to be.”

Without a speaker, advancing any business in the House may be stalled. House Minority Leader Jim Durkin requested Secretary of State Jesse White appoint a provisional parliamentarian, a request White’s office said it will take into consideration.

It’s still possible Madigan could resume his candidacy for Speaker in the days ahead. Regardless, Madigan’s future as speaker remains uncertain.

Attorney General Kwame Raoul said the ComEd scandal implicating Madigan is “really disturbing,” and members of the House must consider facts about that case.

“And I say facts because they’ve been brought up by way of the deferred prosecution agreement where ComEd has acknowledged certain allegations,” Raoul told WMAY last month.

Madigan hasn’t been charged in the ComEd bribery scheme and maintains he’s done nothing wrong. Several people close to the speaker have been charged in the case.

U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin also said it’s the House’s call on who will be the next Speaker.

“I expressed myself clearly on the day after the election on Nov. 4th about my feelings about Michael Madigan and chairmanship of the Illinois Democratic party,” Durbin said.

Back in November, he said it’s time for new leaders of the state’s Democratic party, a role Madigan has served since 1998.

Madigan serving as both speaker and party chair gives him a nexus of power over political funds while controlling what advances at the statehouse.

Disclaimer: This content is distributed by The Center Square

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