Welch emerges as House speaker front-runner; Kifowit withdraws
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.