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SPRINGFIELD, Illinois (AP) The Illinois House on Wednesday elected its first black president to replace the longest-serving legislative leader in modern American history, choosing Democratic Representative Emanuel Chris Welch for the post and dismissing Michael Madigan on account of ongoing corruption. investigation.

Madigan had been president for 36 of the past 38 years, but a vote on Sunday by members of the Democratic caucus indicated he lacked enough support to keep the hammer. He suspended his speaking campaign the next day.

Welch, an eight-year house veteran from the Chicago suburb of Hillside, garnered 70 votes from the 118 House members. Had Madigan sought retention, the Democrats who dominate the chamber could have been forced into a long leadership battle.

It is time to take on new leadership in the House, “Madigan said in a statement. I wish President-elect Welch all the best as he begins a historic term. I sincerely hope today that the caucus that I leaves him to him and to all who will serve by his side is stronger than when I started.

Last summer, Madigan was identified in a Justice Department investigation as the beneficiary of a multi-year bribery firm involving ComEd. He has so far surrendered a $ 200 million fine to the utilities giant, a plea of ​​guilty by ComEd executives and indictments against four others, including Madigans’ closest confidant. Madigan has not been charged with a crime and has denied any wrongdoing.

Welch was part of Madigan’s inner circle, as chairman of the powerful executive committee and was chosen last fall to be chairman of an investigative committee requested by Republicans to examine Madigan’s involvement in the scandal. ComEd. Welch abruptly ended the investigation, saying the Republicans had created a political spectacle.

After decades of sharp partisanship in the House, Welch, who was ridiculed by the top House Republican on Tuesday as a continuation of the Madigan Inc. model, attempted to bridge the gap in his first comments at the helm.

After recognizing both the GOP and the Democrats, he said, “Today will be the last time I talk about us as Democrats or Republicans because I want to talk about our union. We will work together to move this state forward. “

The leadership of the Madigans has been questioned in recent years, even before ComEd’s allegations surfaced. The review included his handling of sexual harassment allegations and a scathing report in which he commissioned that details the environment of bullying and intimidation in the speakers’ bureau under his chief of staff for 25 years.

Madigan, 78, has long been seen as Illinois’ most powerful politician. Former Republican governor Bruce Rauner, who tried to bring down Madigan, said it was Madigan, not him, who was in charge.

Madigan took over just as a constitutional amendment reduced the size of the House, creating single member representative districts and consolidating power at the top. Madigan took advantage of this, setting the agenda, deciding what legislation would be debated and, after 1998, deciding who the party would support for the job after taking over the Democratic Party presidency.

Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without permission.

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