SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (NEXSTAR) — The morning after 22 House Democrats voted against Speaker Michael Madigan’s bid for re-election, the 78-year-old Chicago Democrat invited his 51 supporters to back another candidate in Monday night’s second round of closed door balloting.
“This is not a withdrawal,” Madigan said in a statement. “I have suspended my campaign for Speaker.”
While Democrats hold a supermajority of 73 votes in the Illinois House, they need 60 votes — a simple majority of the entire House of Representatives — to elect a Speaker.
Even in defeat, Madigan is still campaigning. Not only does he remove himself from the line of fire for a bit of a breather, but also in framing himself as a selfless leader and team player, he’s positioned himself to re-enter the race and unify a splintered caucus.
“As I have said many times in the past, I have always put the best interest of the House Democratic Caucus and our members first,” he said. “The House Democratic Caucus can work to find someone, other than me, to get 60 votes for Speaker.”
Rep. Ann Williams (D-Chicago), who won 18 votes on the first round of voting, issued a statement late Sunday night, saying, “Today’s vote makes clear the House Democratic Caucus is ready for a change in leadership.
“I am grateful for the support of so many of my colleagues and will continue to work to earn the support of the rest and unify the caucus,” Williams said.
The only other challenger in the race at this time is Rep. Stephanie Kifowit (D-Oswego), who said she would not bow out after winning three votes. With Madigan out of the campaign, other candidates may feel tempted to jump into the contest.