* Press release…
Seven members of the Illinois Senate announced their support for Senator Don Harmon (D - Oak Park) to be their next president. These members include senators representing the City and suburbs of Chicago as well as downstate. The seven senators include: Emil Jones, III (D - Chicago), Laura Murphy (D - Des Plaines), Omar Aquino (D - Chicago), Scott Bennett (D - Champaign), Bill Cunningham (D - Chicago), Linda Holmes (D - Aurora) and Julie Morrison (D - Lake Forest).
“We are proud to endorse our friend and colleague, Don Harmon. I’ve always admired Don’s ability to listen to disparate voices and bring people together. It’s a critical skill that will be needed to unite our caucus and lead the Senate through the challenging days ahead,” said Senator Murphy.
Discussing the contest to replace outgoing Senate President John Cullerton, Senator Aquino added, “Heading into Sunday’s vote, Don has the support of a solid majority of caucus members with even more ready to vote for him should a second ballot be required.”
Senator Harmon added words of thanks for their support. “I am honored and flattered to have received an outpouring of trust from such a diverse array of my colleagues, especially from the talented new additions to our caucus. Should more than 30 of my Senate colleagues honor me with their votes, I look forward to working collaboratively with Governor Pritzker and leaders in Springfield to help restore the public’s confidence in their government.”
The vote for the next Senate President will be conducted this Sunday, January 19 at the State Capitol in Springfield.
The only surprise on this list is Sen. Emil Jones. He had been reluctant to make up his mind. He also said at a private caucus meeting a couple of weeks ago that he wanted to make sure he was backing the winner this time since he supported the losing candidate against John Cullerton in his first race for Senate President.
That said, seven is a very long way from 30. But, as Hannah Meisel rightly noted last night, it’s been a contentious race and not a lot of people have wanted to publicly announce their intentions.
* From the Tribune’s preview story…
Many Democrats contacted by the Tribune said they were undecided or declined to comment. Harmon declined this week to say how many votes he’s counting on.
“I’m feeling very confident about where I am, I believe I have critical mass to win on Sunday, but I’m not going to publicly share my roll call,” he said.
Likewise, Lightford declined to say how many votes she has lined up but said she was still working to round up the necessary support. At midweek, one Lightford supporter, who asked not to be named to discuss the count, said she was nearing 20 votes.
“Thirty is a hard number,” Lightford said. “It’s a really difficult number.”
* Gov. Pritzker was asked yesterday whether he or his staff were supporting either candidate and he said this…
I’ve told everybody where I stand. Nobody is representing me, if they have said anything like that. Look, I have known both of these people for some time.
Sen. Harmon I’ve known for more than a quarter century and I worked with him on the Fair Tax resolution that passed and that will be on the ballot in November and was a very important priority for me.
I worked with Sen. Lightford on the minimum wage bill, which was the first bill that we passed and that I signed as governor, also a very important priority to me.
So, these are two terrific leaders in the state Senate and I’ll work with either one of them when they get elected.