Illinois Democrats pick Welch for House speaker; Madigan out

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) — Illinois House Democrats threw their support Wednesday behind a Black legislator to take over as speaker, backing Rep. Emanuel “Chris” Welch to lead the chamber as Michael Madigan stepped aside from a job he’d held for nearly 40 years.

Madigan issued a statement conceding that “it is time for new leadership in the House” after a morning Democratic caucus cast a majority of its votes for Welch, of the Chicago suburb of Hillside.

Welch emerged as the front-runner Monday after Madigan, who has been a lock in that caucus for 18 terms, wielded the gavel for 36 of the past 38 years. Madigan, the longest-serving legislative leader in modern U.S. history, failed in a Sunday test vote to get the 60 votes required to reclaim the gavel, largely because of a federal bribery investigation that’s implicated him.