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*** UPDATE: Deal is done *** LIVE COVERAGE: Senate President Election

Sunday, Jan 19, 2020

*** UPDATE *** I am told that Assistant Majority Leader Don Harmon has accepted the terms from Senate Majority Leader Kim Lightford. Barring some unforeseen blow-up, Harmon will be the new Senate President. Lightford, I’m told, will keep her leadership spot and so will most other leaders who backed her.

[ *** End Of Update *** ]

* Supporters of Sen. Kimberly Lightford and Sen. Don Harmon are claiming they have a very real shot at winning the Senate President’s race as we head into the voting today. But I’ve been hearing lots of stories about double-dealing over the past several days, so their roll calls can’t be verified and may not be correct. As I recall, the last time Kirk Dillard ran for Senate Republican Leader he went in thinking he’d win it by one vote. Instead, he lost it by one. These things happen.

From the beginning, Sen. Harmon has been quite adept at projecting the image of a frontrunner and of competence and that has most certainly helped his effort. Majority Leader Lightford, however, has proved time and again that she cannot be underestimated. She worked hard, raised gobs of money and ran a smart campaign. I think both candidates have grown during the past couple of exhausting months.

The expected secret ballot on at least the first round of voting has allowed a few members to tell both sides that they’re with them. It has also allowed some members who have made up their own minds to just stay mum about their pick and vote without fear of retribution. A few are going in without knowing which way they’ll vote. The second round could be a voice vote, and then they’ll know who is with whom (although a couple of folks have intimated that they won’t vote unless it’s a secret ballot).

Rumors are flying everywhere and many of them are just flat-out false. A Harmon supporter, for instance, recently told a Lightford supporter that one of Lightford’s top backers had flipped to Harmon. She called that top supporter in a fury and was told in no uncertain terms that the rumor was completely false. Someone begged me last night to tweet that Speaker Madigan was getting involved for Harmon. But when I asked who MJM had contacted and was given a name, that Senator told me Madigan had called him about something else.

The Democrats will meet in a private caucus starting at 11 o’clock. Members have been told public access will be closed to the SDem’s Statehouse wing. They’ll caucus in what is still Senate President John Cullerton’s office. That’s where they always meet. The candidates will have access to other rooms in that wing to talk with supporters and potential supporters.

The full Senate is officially scheduled to convene at noon, and Gov. Pritzker’s official daily schedule has him presiding over the chamber at that time, but it could very well take much longer than an hour to get this done. Pritzker will be hanging out at the mansion [turns out, he chose to hang out in his Statehouse office] until he’s needed. It’s his birthday today and he joked last week that his birthday present will be a new Senate President. That’s assuming it gets done today, of course.

* I’m going to use our standard ScribbleLive feed, but I’ll be adding commentary to it and posting other stuff along the way. Have fun


- Posted by Rich Miller        

24 Comments
  1. - Shaneful - Sunday, Jan 19, 20 @ 12:41 pm:

    This will be a big public loss for Pritzker


  2. - Amalia - Sunday, Jan 19, 20 @ 12:46 pm:

    LOL Brian Mackey with the Continental Divide clip. forgot about that part.


  3. - Grandson of Man - Sunday, Jan 19, 20 @ 12:57 pm:

    Great job covering this and thanks, political reporters on Twitter. On a Sunday that could have been a day off.


  4. - Rich Miller - Sunday, Jan 19, 20 @ 1:10 pm:

    ===forgot about that part===

    It’s my favorite part of the movie! lol


  5. - John Lopez - Sunday, Jan 19, 20 @ 1:56 pm:

    So the chimney smoke is still colored black for the senate president election?

    Guess the Senate Republicans will be watching the Chiefs/Titans game as the Democrats continue their caucus.


  6. - Amalia - Sunday, Jan 19, 20 @ 2:02 pm:

    well, I would have used an exclamation point to make you laugh even harder, but….


  7. - Rich Miller - Sunday, Jan 19, 20 @ 2:08 pm:

    Yeah. Sometimes I set a bad example and don’t follow my own rules.


  8. - Problem - Sunday, Jan 19, 20 @ 2:34 pm:

    If Lightford loses, there will be many reasons. One of the most important will be that senators did not want a candidate that appeared to be beholden to the governors office.


  9. - Ok - Sunday, Jan 19, 20 @ 3:04 pm:

    Sometimes, I wonder what it would sound like to have sports commentary instead of political commentary:

    “No matter what happens today, there will be only one Senate President.”

    “If Lightford can make a move right here, she has a real shot at it.”

    “Harmon can’t take anything for granted here. He needs to take some time off the clock, but not leave Lightford in a position to win it at the last second.”

    “Its really a question of who wants it more, Rich.”

    “Back in the old days, we wouldn’t have any of this back-and-forth. If a guy switched sides, he knew what was coming for him the next time he was up to bat.”

    “Lightford has that natural political talent, but Harmon is Johnny Hustle.”


  10. - Oswego Willy - Sunday, Jan 19, 20 @ 3:12 pm:

    Pritzker *allegedly* choosing a side (or not) in this will only come into play, no matter who wins, by the way SDems decide to close ranks after, publicly, and with one voice move forward to finalize a president.

    The backstory could be a feeling of encroachment by the Executive, but as all 39 are engaged, they will know and decide how they want that to be framed.


  11. - Ok - Sunday, Jan 19, 20 @ 3:28 pm:

    All the White Dudes, carry the neeewws..


  12. - Say What? - Sunday, Jan 19, 20 @ 3:41 pm:

    If Lightford loses it will be because of her hang out in her own office, inaccessible style. Many newer members had never interacted with her.


  13. - Capitol Text - Sunday, Jan 19, 20 @ 3:45 pm:

    Harmon doesn’t really have anything to offer Lightford because she’s already Majority Leader. At this point it’s flipping her supporters with chairmanships and leadership spots.


  14. - Lincoln Lad - Sunday, Jan 19, 20 @ 3:47 pm:

    When Lightford loses, it will be because of who broke rank before the first vote. It set the stage for the first round vote favoring Harmon.


  15. - Oak Parker - Sunday, Jan 19, 20 @ 3:57 pm:

    Who has labor been pushing?


  16. - Oak Parker - Sunday, Jan 19, 20 @ 4:08 pm:

    Will the President pro tem office be resurrected as an enticement for an on-the-fence Senator?


  17. - Rich Hill - Sunday, Jan 19, 20 @ 4:28 pm:

    It would have been fun to have wordslinger comment on an Oak Parker leading the Senate.


  18. - Oak Parker - Sunday, Jan 19, 20 @ 4:55 pm:

    Don had been laying the groundwork for this for years. Kim honestly was thinking more about retiring in 2022 and hadn’t really considered this possibility until Cullerton’s surprise announcement.


  19. - Three Dimensional Checkers - Sunday, Jan 19, 20 @ 5:31 pm:

    Congrats to Sen Harmon and good job to the caucus. Sounds like Harmon and Lightford were able to make a good deal after Harmon won the majority on the first ballot.


  20. - Chad Hays - Sunday, Jan 19, 20 @ 5:33 pm:

    Congratulations to new Senate President Don Harmon!

    I was asked a few minutes ago if President Harmon was still in the band.

    The Boat Drink Caucus is like the Hotel California . . . . . .you can check out anytime you like, but you can never leave.

    Rock on Mr. President . . . . . .rock on.


  21. - low level - Sunday, Jan 19, 20 @ 6:04 pm:

    With Harmon’s election, both chambers are now lead by graduates of St. Ignatius on Chicago’s Near West Side. Madigan, class of 1960 & Harmon, class of 1984. I wonder if that is a first? I also wonder how the generational difference might impact things? The big age difference might be a first as well?


  22. - Grandson of Man - Sunday, Jan 19, 20 @ 6:14 pm:

    Congrats to Sen. Pres. Harmon and Senate Democrats for coming to an agreement. Onward to the future.


  23. - Dotnonymous - Sunday, Jan 19, 20 @ 6:22 pm:

    I once told Don Harmon I believed his life saving opioid legislation might be the most important contribution of his political career…I was quite obviously wrong…Congratulations are in perfect order.


  24. - Really - Sunday, Jan 19, 20 @ 9:52 pm:

    Hold on to your wallets. They never met a tax dollar they couldn’t spend. The Illinois exodus will continue full speed ahead.


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