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GOP: Madigan’s Suspended Campaign ‘Historic;’ Unsure If His Reign Is Over

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Illinois Speaker of the House Michael Madigan, D-Chicago, speaks to lawmakers while on the House floor during session at the Illinois State Capitol Tuesday, May 17, 2016, in Springfield, Ill.

SPRINGFIELD — In what could become one of the biggest shifts of political power in Illinois in decades, Mike Madigan  announced Monday he’s suspending his campaign for Illinois House Speaker.Two state Republican lawmakers from McLean County consider it a historic occasion, but they still believe the longtime leader could still find a way to retain the powerful post he’s held for nearly four decades.

Madigan has been Illinois House Speaker for all but two years since 1983. Currently, he lacks the votes within the Democrat party to keep his post. Madigan has been embroiled in a bribery scheme with Commonwealth Edison, and he’s the subject of a federal probe. Prosecutors have named him “Public official A,” though he’s not been charged in the case.

In this May 28, 2014, photo, state Sen. Jason Barickman listens to lawmakers at the Illinois State Capitol in Springfield, Ill. Seth Perlman/AP

Republican State Sen. Jason Barickman of Bloomington thinks Madigan’s time as House leader has “come and gone,” but he’s not sure if Democrats are ready to get behind a successor.

“The fact that he has not secured the votes necessary on the initial vote, that is very significant and historic, but I’d also say this is not over yet,” Barickman said.

Barickman said Madigan could still hold onto the speakership, noting the Chicago Democrat still secured 51 votes–nine short of the minimum required, even after many Illinois Democrats said they didn’t intend to support him.

GOP State Rep. Dan Brady of Bloomington said he’d like to see someone in the leadership post who can be more of a unifying force, agreeing it’s too soon to count Madigan out.

“I’d look for someone who has accomplishments being able to be more bipartisan, reasonable in their thinking and when we agree or agree to disagree,” Brady said. “It’s not going to be a person who wants to get even and have politics of personal destruction.”

State Rep. Dan Brady of Bloomington. Megan McGowan/WGLT

Brady said the Democrats will need to find a compromise candidate for speaker because he said the progressive wing of the party doesn’t appear to have the votes to elect someone without the help of moderates.

“Whether it’s the far left, whether it’s the far right, it’s in the middle where I think most individuals want to align themselves with and I think more things get done,” Brady said. “Our hope is as a Republican member of the Republican caucus is that it is someone that we know, that we’ve had some history with, that we’ve been able to work with.”

While Madigan came up nine votes short of being re-elected speaker during a vote on Sunday, no other candidate came close to Madigan’s total.

Democratic Rep. Ann Williams of Chicago picked up 18 votes during that initial round of voting. Rep. Stephanie Kifowit of Aurora had three votes.

The official vote is scheduled for Wednesday when the General Assembly is set to reconvene.

Barickman suggested House Minority Leader Jim Durkin, R-Western Springs,  would be a more bipartisan choice for the leadership post, though there’s no indication the supermajority party would consider a candidate in the minority.

“There’s lot of Democrats who say there ought to be a new speaker and there’s many, many, many choices of who that ought to be,” Barickman said. “Maybe even a more reasonable Republican would fit the bill better than Mike Madigan.

“It just remains to be seen.”

Eric Stock is a reporter with WGLT in Normal.

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Illinois Public Radio

Illinois Newsroom gets stories from public radio stations from across the state, including WBEZ-Chicago, WCBU-Peoria, WGLT-Normal, WVIK-Rock Island, WIUM-Macomb, WNIJ-DeKalb, WSIU-Carbondale, WUIS-Springfield, and St. Louis Public Radio.

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