* Tina Sfondeles…
Illinois Democratic senators plan to meet Sunday behind closed doors to select one of the most powerful players in state politics.
And it appears the field has dwindled to two heavyweights: Majority Leader Kimberly Lightford, D-Maywood, and Assistant Majority Leader Don Harmon, D-Oak Park.
Harmon would be the first suburban Democrat to hold the job this century.
Lightford would become the first woman ever.
“There hasn’t been a woman at all, no matter what nationality,” she said. I think it’s time to have a woman’s perspective.”
* Shia Kapos…
Other behind-the-scenes drama has a few Black Caucus members feeling pressured to vote for Lightford. Others worry Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s team is taking sides (The governor says not so). Leadership positions are being offered in exchange for votes. Deals are being brokered. One senator said “tensions are high and claws are out.”
The phrase used most often: “It’s fluid.”
Some senators have stayed on the fence because they don’t want to side with the losing candidate and face possible retribution. A secret ballot is their friend.
That sort of pressure is not unusual in a race like this. It happened the last time the Senate had a contested race for president.
* Mary Ann Ahern…
The winning candidate will have no shortage of crises to deal with, from federal investigations of several state senators and lobbyists to serious ethical investigations into the conduct of members and their staffers.
The leadership role also requires a candidate who can fundraise for fellow senators, and in that area Harmon has a decided advantage, having outraised Lightford while also donating far more money to other political candidates.
“Don has more money in his coffers, but that’s because he’s been running for the idea of the presidency for a lot longer than I have,” she said.
“On the political side I think I’m in the best position to protect our caucus and to grow it,” Harmon said. “I’ve demonstrated my ability to help my colleagues with their election and raising the resources we need.”
I will open the blog on Sunday during the caucus meeting and subsequent floor vote (if any).