(The Center Square) – With Illinois Republicans losing ground in the Illinois House following last week’s election, a change in leadership is expected.
Illinois House Speaker Emanuel “Chris” Welch’s office announced he’s secured a second term as Illinois House Speaker for the term that begins mid-January.
“The people of Illinois have called on House Democrats to continue our efforts to move our state forward, and with the support of an expanded Democratic Caucus, I’m proud to say that I have secured the necessary votes to continue these efforts as Speaker of the House,” Welch, D-Hillside, said. “I’m honored by the trust my colleagues and my neighbors have placed in me, and I’m ready to build on the progress we have made in the past two years.”
House Minority Leader Jim Durkin, R-Western Springs, announced last week he won’t be seeking the party’s support to lead the House Republican caucus.
“It has been the honor of a lifetime to serve as Leader of the House Republican caucus, but it's time for the Illinois Republican Party to rebuild with new leaders who can bring independents back to the party that are needed to bring change to the state,” Durkin said. “I began this journey as a voice of moderation and conclude this journey the same way I started, a voice of moderation.”
Republicans lost up to five House seats last week, despite having the most candidates challenge Democrats in recent years.
State Rep. Tim Butler, R-Springfield, sees Savanna state Rep. Tony McComie rising to the top of leadership in the House.
“I think she’s got the inside track probably on being leader, but we’re going to see,” Butler told WMAY. “I think Tony would be great, if she’s the person to do it. I really like Tony a lot.”
State Rep. Dan Caulkins, R-Decatur, urged Republicans to be more judicious in who they chose to lead the caucus.
“There are people that are very well qualified within our caucus and I think if they are interested they ought to be allowed an opportunity to be heard before we rush into anointing someone without going through a fair and open process,” Caulkins told WMAY.
A House Republican caucus vote on leadership is expected when lawmakers return for fall veto session this week.
It’s also expected there could be a change in Republican leadership in the Illinois Senate with John Curran, R-Downers Grove, poised to replace Dan McConchie, R-Hawthorn Woods, as that chamber’s minority leader.
Butler, who despite winning an uncontested election for another term, announced he’ll step down at the end of the year to become the president of the Illinois Railroad Association. Local Republican leaders will pick his replacement. He said Republicans have some work to do on unifying the party.
“We need to get back to the fact that the people at the top of the ticket need to realize you’ve got to work with the caucases and really get the stuff on the ground,” Butler said of the party’s future.
Caulkins said the party has two years to figure out what went wrong.
“I just think that we need to get better organized and offer the people of Illinois a choice,” Caulkins said. “I don’t know, maybe things just haven’t gotten bad enough yet to where enough people haven’t figured it out.”
Lawmakers are back for fall veto session Tuesday. Thursday’s scheduled session day has been canceled.