Pritzker: If Madigan won’t take questions, he must resign

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As more and more Illinois House Democrats defect from supporting House Speaker Michael Madigan, Republicans are demanding a vote on a new speaker immediately. Gov. J.B. Pritzker said Thursday if Madigan doesn’t answer questions, he must resign.

Every two years, the Illinois House votes for speaker; 60 votes are needed. Madigan has held that spot for all but two years since 1983. The term is up in January.

Madigan has been implicated in several federal indictments against other people, but hasn’t himself been charged with crime.

State Rep. Stephanie Kifowit, D-Oswego said there’s a sea change within the caucus.

“As it stands today it does not look like Speaker Madigan has the votes to retain the speakership,” Kifowit said.

Kifowit is vying for the speakership.

Democratic state Rep. Will Guazzarid said from his count, there are 15 House Democrats that “now publicly committed not to vote for Madigan.” He said it’s time to start talking about who can get to 60 votes.

House Minority Leader Jim Durkin was joined by other Republicans in urging Pritzker to call a special session and pressure Madigan out.

“He needs to step down immediately as the speaker and begin a process of the Democrats putting in a new Speaker so there will be a new day for this state,” Durkin said.

Pritzker didn’t say if he’d call a special session but unprompted said Thursday the pay-to-play conduct outlined in the indictments is “unspeakably wrong” and Madigan must answer questions.

“The pay-to-play quid pro quo situation outlined in these indictments released last night are unspeakably wrong,” Pritkzer said Thursday. “If Speaker Madigan wants to continue in a position of enormous public trust with a serious ethical cloud hanging over his head then he has to at the very least stand in front of the press and the people and answer every last question to their satisfaction. If the speaker cannot commit to that level of transparency, then the time has come for him to resign as speaker.”

The General Assembly canceled fall session and aren’t expected back until sometime in January.

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