Rep. Emanuel “Chris” Welch received 55 votes Wednesday morning, while 17 people voted present, as the House Democratic Caucus works to determine who they want to be the next speaker after Michael Madigan, sources said.
Rep. Emanuel “Chris” Welch, the leading contender to be the next Illinois House speaker, fell five votes short Wednesday morning of the 60 needed from his Democratic colleagues to get the job, sources in the room told the Chicago Sun-Times.
Welch, D-Hillside, received 55 votes, while 17 people voted present as the House Democratic Caucus tries to determine who they want to succeed Michael Madigan, sources said.
Sixty votes are required to become speaker — a crucial threshold that decades-long incumbent Madigan could not meet earlier this week, a signal of the embattled Southwest Side Democrat’s waning power.
Welch entered the race on Monday, after Madigan’s stunning decision to suspend his own campaign kicked off a series of fast-moving developments.
Tuesday saw Rep. Jay Hoffman of Swansea joining the fray, and the two women in the race — Rep. Stephanie Kifowit, D-Oswego, and Rep. Ann Williams of Chicago — drop out.
Welch has drawn criticism from Republicans for his role as chairman of the House Special Investigative Committee that was charged with investigating Madigan last year. The committee ended abruptly after meeting three times and calling one witness.
They did not find that Madigan engaged in wrongdoing in his dealings with ComEd. Madigan was implicated in an alleged bribery scheme in which ComEd is accused of sending $1.3 million to Madigan’s associates for doing little or no work for the utility in order to curry favor with the powerful politician.
Welch’s bid drew concern from female legislators and others Tuesday after news reports of a 2002 police report detailing an alleged attack on an unidentified woman, with whom he was in a relationship.
In the police report, the woman said she was returning to Welch’s home to grab some of her belongings after their relationship ended. During that argument, she called Welch a “loser” and he became “enraged” and is alleged to have “grabbed her hair with both hands while in the kitchen and slammed her head backwards numerous times on the counter top,” according to the police report.
Welch denied grabbing the woman and he was never charged in the case.
In a statement addressing the police report, Welch blamed Republicans for bringing up what he called a “verbal argument” that occurred “nearly two decades ago.”
“I will be honest that I have reconciled with the individual since that night,” Welch’s statement continued. “In fact, after our dispute we sought out the authorities ourselves. Their family lives in my district and are proud supporters of my public service and work. However, I must convey my dismay over the lack of decency displayed by the GOP politicians and their urge to use this report against me. At no other occasion have these events been brought up and I firmly believe my Republican colleagues are threatened by the potential growth of my profile.”