The country’s longest-serving house speaker, Illinois Democrat Michael Madigan, has suspended his campaign for another term as the state’s leader but has not withdrawn.
The scandal-plagued Chicago-area state representative announced that he would no longer actively pursue another term as chief of the lower chamber. However, he did not pull his name from the race.
Madigan has been speaker of the Illinois House since 1983, with the exception of two years in which Republicans controlled the legislature. He is the longest-serving state house speaker in American history and is the most powerful Democrat in the Land of Lincoln.
“As I have said many times in the past, I have always put the best interest of the House Democratic Caucus and our members first,” Madigan said in a statement Monday, according to the Chicago Tribune. “The House Democratic Caucus can work to find someone, other than me, to get 60 votes for speaker.”
Madigan was not able to garner enough votes to retake his seat when the new session began this month. But none of his competitors came anywhere near his tally. Some feel that Madigan hopes to show that no one has anything like a consensus to lead, and he still commands the most support, even if it is not enough to win the 60 votes.
Still, his stepping aside could open the door for someone else to win the 60 votes needed to lead the house, marking a new day for the Illinois Democrat Party.
But Madigan has been mired in controversy in the famously corrupt state. He has been implicated in a years-long bribery scheme involving power company ComEd.
Last year, federal prosecutors said ComEd would be fined $200 million for a scheme including bribes in the form of no-show jobs and contracts to associates of “Public Official A,” who is widely understood to be the speaker.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office identified a high-level elected official, termed “Public Official A,” in a Friday press release. The official was implicated in the electric company’s attempts to sway him by doling out exclusive contracts and no-show jobs to his friends and associates. However, Madigan is not directly named in any of the public filings thus far.
Regardless, the officials so named have all been close Madigan associates and few accept that he could have remained ignorant of the scheme.
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