Welch emerges as House speaker front-runner; Kifowit withdraws

  • Rep. LaShawn Ford, left, a Chicago Democrat, speaks Monday with Rep. Emanuel "Chris" Welch, a Hillside Democrat, on the floor of the Bank of Springfield Center, which is serving as the state House chamber amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Members of the House Black Caucus backed Welch for speaker of the House Monday night.

    Rep. LaShawn Ford, left, a Chicago Democrat, speaks Monday with Rep. Emanuel "Chris" Welch, a Hillside Democrat, on the floor of the Bank of Springfield Center, which is serving as the state House chamber amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Members of the House Black Caucus backed Welch for speaker of the House Monday night. Justin Fowler/State Journal Register

  • Stephanie Kifowit

    Stephanie Kifowit

  • Ann Williams

    Ann Williams

 
 
Updated 1/12/2021 11:44 PM

SPRINGFIELD -- State Rep. Emanuel "Chris" Welch gathered crucial support in his bid to be the next speaker of the Illinois House on Tuesday, picking up backing from the Latinx Caucus and seeing two of his rivals exit the race.

In a vote late Tuesday, 50 House Democrats voted for Welch for speaker, and 15 chose downstate state Rep. Jay Hoffman, sources told the Chicago Sun-Times. Another eight voted present.

 

Sixty votes are needed to become speaker -- a crucial threshold that decadeslong incumbent Mike Madigan could not meet, a signal of the Southwest Side Democrat's waning power.

The support for Welch from Hispanic legislators comes a day after the Black Caucus chose the Hillside Democrat as its candidate, sources told the Chicago Sun-Times.

Three sources -- one of them within the House Latinx Caucus -- confirmed the decision.

Welch entered the race on Monday, after Madigan's stunning decision to suspend his own campaign kicked off a series of fast-moving developments.

Tuesday saw Hoffman of Swansea join the fray, and two other candidates drop out -- state Rep. Stephanie Kifowit of Oswego and state Rep. Ann Williams of Chicago.

"With additional individuals entering this race yesterday, it is clear that I do not have a path to 60 votes -- but I am encouraged and energized by the fact that the caucus has a real choice in candidates for Speaker for the first time in 38 years," Kifowit said in a statement.

Read the full story at chicago.suntimes.com.

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