Just hours after former Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan announced that he was stepping down as chairman of the state’s Democratic Party, Rep. Robin Kelly (D-IL) announced that she will seek to replace him in that role.
Kelly, who has represented the second congressional district in Illinois since 2013, says that the unique make-up of her district, which includes parts of Chicago and southern suburbs in Cook, Will and Kankakee counties, will give her the ability to build a party that is welcoming to all residents of Illinois, no matter what region they are from.
“The Congressional district I represent is urban, suburban and rural which is a microcosm of the State and gives me a unique perspective and understanding to lead our party forward,” she said in a statement. “I've been a strong leader in the party, I have the voice to move Illinois forward. As chair, I will bring a fresh approach that includes my collaborative and inclusive work ethic.”
Kelly has already picked up a high-profile endorsement, as Sen. Dick Durbin, the Senate majority whip, has announced his support of her candidacy.
“Robin's traveled to every corner of Illinois as a statewide candidate. And she represents a district that’s urban, suburban, and rural," Durbin said in a statement. "Her experience in Congress, the state legislature, and managing an Illinois constitutional office afford her a breadth of important experience and skill sets. I cannot think of a better person to lead Democrats moving forward in Illinois."
Madigan, who had served as the chair of the party since the late 1990’s, announced his resignation from the post on Monday, just days after announcing he was stepping down from his House seat after more than 50 years in office. Madigan also stepped aside in the recent race to become Speaker of the House, giving up the gavel that he had held for more than 30 years.
Vice Chair Karen Yarbrough will serve in the lead role of the party until a new leader is chosen. Under Illinois law, the members of the Democratic State Central Committee will meet within 30 days to choose the new chairman, who will serve the remainder of Madigan’s term, which is set to expire after the March 2022 Democratic primary.
Kelly, who won election to Congress in 2013 to replace former Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr., defeated Republican challenger Theresa Raborn in the 2020 race in the second district. She currently serves on the House Committee on Energy and Commerce and the House Committee on Oversight and Reform.