*** 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.
* 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…