Longtime Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan suspended his campaign for reelection to the powerful post on Monday, noting it was not a "withdrawal" from the race after he failed to reach the 60-vote threshold in the first vote.
"This is not a withdrawal. I have suspended my campaign for Speaker," Madigan said in a statement.
“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 continued. "The House Democratic Caucus can work to find someone, other than me, to get 60 votes for Speaker.”
Madigan received 51 votes in the closed door House Democratic Caucus meeting on Sunday, nine below the 60 needed to be elected speaker. A total of 21 Democrats voted for other candidates: 18 for Rep. Ann Williams and three for Rep. Stephanie Kifowit, while one voted present.
A total of 19 Democrats in the House had previously said publicly that they would not support Madigan for another term in the position, which he's held for all but two years since 1983, making him the longest serving statehouse speaker in U.S. history.
A majority of those 19 members of his caucus came out against his reelection effort in November after two former ComEd executives and two consultants, one a longtime Madigan associate and confidant, were indicted on multiple federal charges related to the alleged scheme to influence Madigan - identified in the indictment as "Public Official A" - in exchange for legislation favorable to the utility giant, prosecutors say.
Those charges came months after federal prosecutors filed a deferred prosecution agreement with ComEd in which investigators revealed that the utility company agreed to pay $200 million dollars in fines and admitted to arranging jobs and payments for associates of an elected official, referred to only as “Public Official A," from 2011 to 2019 to curry favor with the official.
Madigan has not been charged with any criminal wrongdoing and has repeatedly denied the allegations laid out by prosecutors, saying in part that if the conspiracy to influence him did occur, "it was never made known" to him and if it had been, it "would have been profoundly unwelcome."
In a joint statement released Sunday, those same 19 Democratic members of the Illinois House who initially opposed Madigan's bid said their stances hadn't changed, proclaiming that it’s time for “new leadership” in the position.
“After meeting the past two days in Springfield, and having had the opportunity to participate in multiple candidate forums in the speaker’s election, our position has not changed,” the group of lawmakers said in a statement. “We will not be supporting Michael J. Madigan for Speaker of the Illinois House at any stage of the voting process. It is time for new Democratic leadership in the Illinois House.”
At least 60 votes are required to win the speakership, and voting will continue until a speaker is chosen. No legislative action can be taken prior to the election of the speaker, according to House rules, meaning a lawmaker must reach 60 votes to assume the leadership role before the session can begin, bills can be introduced or any action can be taken.