12 suburban Democrats vow to oppose Madigan speakership, but others won't say
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Twelve suburban legislators are among the Democrats in the Illinois House who've pledged not to support Michael Madigan's latest bid for speaker.
Madigan, who aside from a two-year gap in the 1990s has been House speaker since 1983, has been implicated in a bribery scheme involving ComEd. He's also come under fire for his handling of sexual harassment allegations within his office.
Madigan hasn't been charged with a crime. But lawmakers including Daniel Didech of Buffalo Grove say his reign needs to end Jan. 13 when a speaker is chosen for the 102nd General Assembly.
"Mike Madigan has been speaker of the house for all but two years of my life," Didech, 33, said. "It's time to move in a new direction."
Fellow Democratic state Rep. Bob Morgan of Deerfield agreed.
"Leadership requires taking responsibility, and the pervasive culture of mistrust and corruption in Illinois lies at Mike Madigan's feet," Morgan said. "Mike Madigan has irreparably breached the trust of the people of Illinois and he cannot lead us any longer."
State Rep. Terra Costa Howard of Glen Ellyn called on Madigan to "do the honorable thing" and step down before the vote.
State Rep. Stephanie Kifowit of Oswego is challenging Madigan for the speakership. No other candidates have surfaced.
But there are many who haven't joined the quest to replace Madigan, who controls the fate of legislation in the House and dispenses party funds to lawmakers' campaigns as leader of the Illinois Democrats.
Some remain publicly loyal -- like state Rep. Fred Crespo of Hoffman Estates, who said he seeks a speaker who can best unite the Democratic caucus and believes that of the two declared candidates, Madigan "has the experience to do that."
Ten other suburban Democrats wouldn't say how they'll vote on Madigan's leadership.
The Daily Herald polled the Democratic lawmakers representing the North, Northwest and West suburbs about the speakership. They were asked if they'll vote for Madigan, if their support has been sought by any candidate or if they intend to run for the post.
Queries were not sent to Republicans because Democrats have majority control of the House. Sixty votes are needed to pick a speaker, and 73 of the House's 118 members will be Democrats when the new session begins.
State Rep. Anne Stava-Murray of Naperville, the sole Democrat who didn't vote for Madigan as speaker in 2019, does not plan to support him in 2021.
"The pervasive environment of sexual harassment and assault that existed for many, many years under his leadership still exists, as does the reputation for corruption at the state level," Stava-Murray said.
Kifowit, Costa Howard, Didech, Morgan, Stava-Murray and 15 other House Democrats last week signed a letter proclaiming they'll vote for a new speaker, which would leave Madigan below the needed threshold. The others from the suburbs are:
• Jonathan Carroll of Northbrook.
• Deb Conroy of Elmhurst.
• Robyn Gabel of Evanston.
• Jennifer Gong-Gershowitz of Glenview.
• Anna Moeller of Elgin.
• Kathleen Willis of Addison.
• Sam Yingling of Grayslake.
When asked, representatives for Madigan would not comment. Instead, they provided a statement Madigan released in November.
"The decision on the next speaker of the Illinois House will be made at a caucus, after a full discussion of the issues facing our state and the qualifications of the candidates," Madigan said at the time. "I plan to be a candidate for speaker, and ... I continue to have support from a significant number of House Democratic caucus members."
Among them are Hoffman Estates' Crespo and Michael Zalewski of Riverside.
Zalewski was among six Democrats who reportedly sent a letter to Madigan's critics within the party asking for unity.
"I've conveyed to the speaker I still support him," Zalewski said.
Some won't say
Other Democrats would not say where they stand on the speakership or gave unclear answers.
When asked if he'll vote for Madigan, state Rep. Mark Walker of Arlington Heights said, "We'll see."
While praising Madigan for being "a superior operations manager," Walker also said public servants must be held to a higher standard.
"I don't believe he'll be a viable candidate by January," Walker said of Madigan.
Through a spokesman, state Rep. Marty Moylan of Des Plaines refused to comment on the race for speaker when directly asked last week. But last month, Moylan issued a statement in which he said criticizing Madigan while Democrats win seats long held by Republicans "is absurd."
State Rep. Rita Mayfield of Waukegan, state Rep. Michelle Mussman of Schaumburg and Rep.-elect Maura Hirschauer of Batavia also refused to say if they'll support Madigan.
"Ask me on Jan. 12," Mayfield said.
Five other suburban Democrats didn't respond to interview requests: Reps.-elect Suzanne Ness of Crystal Lake and Janet Yang Rohr of Naperville, and incumbents Barbara Hernandez of Aurora, Natalie Manley of Joliet and Joyce Mason of Gurnee.
Hernandez, Mason, Mussman, Ness and Yang Rohr avoided giving direct answers when they were asked if they'd support Madigan as speaker in Daily Herald candidate questionnaires this fall.
Manley ran unopposed in last month's general election and wasn't asked to fill out a candidate questionnaire.
• Daily Herald staff writers Elena Ferrarin, Jake Griffin, Madhu Krishnamurthy, Eric Peterson, Christopher Placek, Marni Pyke, Lauren Rohr, Susan Sarkauskas, Kevin Schmidt, Katlyn Smith, Barbara Vitello, Rick West and Mick Zawislak contributed to this report.