Bid to oust Madigan as speaker might not be decided on first vote
A number of suburban Democratic lawmakers say they are willing to prolong the vote for Illinois House speaker in their effort to replace Michael Madigan, setting the House up for possible gridlock.
House rules dictate that official business, including votes on legislation, cannot be conducted until a speaker is elected.
Neither Madigan, of Chicago, nor Rep. Stephanie Kifowit of Oswego, the only other declared candidate, has the 60 votes necessary to be elected speaker, with just one week until the Jan. 13 initial vote, according to a number of House lawmakers. Kifowit, however, said she is confident in her chances.
Democratic Rep. Kathleen Willis of Addison is also expected to put her name forward as a candidate, her colleagues said. She has not officially announced and did not respond to requests for comment Monday or Tuesday.
Willis, chair of the House Democratic Caucus, in December became the first member of party leadership to say she would not vote for Madigan to remain as speaker, a role he has held for all but two of the past 37 years.
If no candidate initially secures the 60 votes the House adjourns until it can vote again the following day. This process continues until a speaker is chosen. Secretary of State Jesse White presides over the vote.
"I do have a very strong path to 60 votes," Kifowit said. "I am doing this a little bit like a boxing match; it's not going to happen in the first round but when we plan out and we have multiple strategies to get to 60 and there are quite a few of those strategies I feel very comfortable with."
Some of the 19 Democrats who have vowed not to vote for Madigan say a prolonged selection of the speaker is a sacrifice they are willing to make. Madigan has no clear path toward reelection as long as the 19 Democrats from the 73-member caucus continue to withhold votes from him.
Democratic Rep. Daniel Didech of Buffalo Grove, one of the 19 not voting for Madigan, said he is undecided whom he will back and is willing to hold out for the right candidate.
"My hope is that by (Jan. 13) someone will have the 60 votes, but we're also prepared for the possibility that nobody will," Didech said. "If we have to be on the floor for an extended period of time before somebody gets 60 votes, that is something we are prepared for."
Democratic Rep. Terra Costa Howard of Glen Ellyn, another member of the "not Mike Madigan" camp, said she believes a prolonged speaker selection process is "what will be necessary to provide systematic change for the state of Illinois."
Suburban Republican lawmakers say a delay in choosing a speaker could be damaging to the state during a time when critical legislation needs to be passed.
"I think it's asinine," said Republican Rep. Brad Stephens of Rosemont. "There is lots of stuff that needs to be addressed, and that list probably keeps growing every day."