Illinois Government Essentials

Democratic Leadership Transitions

Following an arguably lackluster 2020 election and "new" federal indictment involving allegations tied to House Speaker Michael Madigan, momentum quickly formed signaling the possible end of Speaker Madigan's tenure. With 73 House Democratic caucus members selecting the chamber's leader in 2021, no more than 13 could oppose Speaker Madigan's leadership, which was already well over that threshold going into the January 2021 House Democratic meetings.

As of a week before the House Speaker selection, the voters in districts with legislators opposing Speaker Madigan tended to support top of the ticket Democrats in competitive statewide or federal races slightly less than the overall caucus average, and significantly less than the "Black Caucus," Latino Caucus, and Progressive Caucus; however voters in districts with legislators opposing Speaker Madigan tended to support top of the ticket Democrats similar to the "Women's Caucus." While opponents of former Speaker Madigan made the debate possible, it was ultimately the most democratic leaning caucus among House Democrats that decided the House Speaker result.

Prior to the House leadership debate, the Illinois Senate underwent a similar debate in January 2020 that involved party identity issues regarding policy, race, and corruption after Senate President John Cullerton abruptly announced his forthcoming retirement on the last day of the 2019 fall legislative session.

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