Madigan loyalist Rep. Welch a front-runner to replace longtime House speaker

West suburban State Representative Chris Welch is emerging as a front-runner in the contest to replace longtime Illinois House Speaker Mike Madigan.

In a vote taken behind closed doors Tuesday night, Welch fell short of the majority needed and several other candidates still remain in contention.

While the situation remains fluid, insiders say at least five lawmakers were in the mix for the speakership.

Although Madigan said publicly he had "suspended" his bid for another term, sources say he would re-enter if no one else gets the needed 60 vote majority.

North Side Rep. Ann Williams finished second to Madigan in an earlier first ballot, getting 18 votes to Madigan’s 51.

Downstate Representative Jay Hoffman, who got 15 votes during an evening vote, and Rep. Stephanie Kifowit are contending as well.


Rep. Welch, a Madigan loyalist, has the backing of the Legislative Black Caucus.

The new General Assembly will be sworn in Wednesday. Madigan and Governor JB Pritzker have signaled that among the items on the agenda is a debate over whether to raise taxes and by how much.

This is a developing story...