Illinois State Senate chooses Democrat Don Harmon as new president

After a bitter, behind-the-scenes battle, the Illinois State Senate chose Democrat Don Harmon, a longtime lawmaker from Oak Park, as its new president on Sunday.

State Sen. Kim Lightford (D-Maywood) was the other contender for the job. With a businesslike calm belying their weeks of backroom struggle, it was Lightford herself who nominated Harmon.

"We've been neighbors here on the senate floor," Lightford said of Harmon. "I can't think of anyone else who would do a wonderful job leading our caucus. I look forward to working with him in unity."

Lightford will keep her post as Democratic Majority Leader, who is the chamber's second in command.

"I want to express my gratitude to Sen. Lightford for her commitment to partner with me to heal whatever rough edges may have emerged during the contest," Harmon said.

Harmon said his priorities are to restore public trust in the chamber, where several members are facing federal corruption charges. And he said tax policy is an urgent issue.

Lawmakers return to the capitol next week, and Gov. JB Pritzker is scheduled to deliver his State of the State speech a week from Wednesday.