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“A watershed moment”: Political analyst speaks on IL House Speaker vote

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(WSIL) -- Thirty-seven years after Rep. Michael Madigan (D-Chicago) first became Illinois House speaker, a rising star in the General Assembly ended Madigan's long and legendary reign.

Rep. Emanuel 'Chris' Welch (D-Hillside) received enough votes Wednesday afternoon to become Illinois' first Black house speaker. Welch is the first Democratic speaker, outside of Madigan, since William Redmond in 1975.

Madigan was first elected speaker on January 12, 1983 and again on January 8, 1997. Madigan held control over the Illinois House for 35 of the last 37 years.

John Jackson, former director of the Paul Simon Public Policy Institute in Carbondale, says January 13, 2021 signaled the end of one of the most powerful political reigns in Illinois history.

"He was not only speaker he was also chair of the Democratic Party of the State of Illinois," Jackson said. "That gave him double power in some ways."

Madigan shocked state lawmakers Monday morning when he announced he would suspend his campaign for speaker.

Jackson called Madigan's implication in a ComEd bribery scheme the final straw that broke support for some Democrats. Welch, Jackson says, is a fresh voice that gives new hope for bipartisanship in Springfield.

"It's really a watershed moment in the history of the General Assembly and the history of Illinois," Jackson said.

Jackson says Republicans may have to change their campaign narrative after decades of failing to unseat Madigan.

"So we'll see in 2022 just exactly what they fashion for their appeal," Jackson said." But they lost the boogeyman now."

Danny Valle

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