SPRINGFIELD, Ill. - The clock is ticking for lawmakers to finish their work before the end of lame-duck session. However, many turned their attention to House Speaker Mike Madigan's announcement that he would suspend his campaign for a 19th term as the chamber's leader Monday.
In or out? - That's the question many want Speaker Madigan to answer after his shocking announcement. Madigan has led the chamber 35 of the last 37 years. Now, many see this as an opportunity to get a new voice in the Speaker's chair.
The Chicago Democrat stated he always puts the best interest of his caucus and its members first. He explained the caucus could work to find someone to get 60 votes required for Speaker. Rep. Ann Williams hopes to be that candidate, with 18 members already pledging their support.
"I think last night was a message of support that the Illinois House is looking for a change in leadership," Williams said. "And I'm going to move forward and try to get the vote."
Some believe Madigan is using this as an opportunity to see if any candidate could reach 60 votes. Williams and Rep. Stephanie Kifowit (D-Oswego) would have a major task to gain that much support. But others could toss their names in. However, several Madigan loyalists say it's too late for others to hop in.
"I would not look very favorably on the candidacy of anybody else at this point. It would seem to me to be that individual to be an opportunist," said Rep. Andre Thapedi (D-Chicago).
Yet, House Republican Leader Jim Durkin says Madigan should directly explain his intent for the rest of the Speaker race. While Durkin is still aiming for Madigan's role with Republican support, the Capitol Bureau asked him if he would support a female Speaker.
"While I wish I had the votes to be able to be Speaker, I think having a woman running the chamber is long overdue. And I welcome it," Durkin said.
The Western Springs native also added a member of the House Black Caucus could lead the chamber. While Durkin said no one had contacted him after Madigan's announcement, he said possible candidates have reached out recently.
Education reform bill heads to governor's desk
Meanwhile, blocks away in the Capitol building, Senators passed the first of four massive bills from the Legislative Black Caucus - a new vision for education in Illinois, providing equity and fairness for all students. While Senate Majority Leader Kimberly Lightford was met with intense questioning on proposal costs and impact on colleges, she stressed the plan would transform schooling for far too many left out under the current system.
"Here's to Black children and all marginalized children for years to come," Lightford added. "Thank you ladies and gentlemen for having the courage to do the right thing at this moment of time in our history."
HB 2170 passed out of the Senate on a 40-18 vote. The House later passed the proposal on concurrence 69-41. The bill now goes to Gov. JB Pritzker's desk for approval.