* Tina Sfondeles at the Sun-Times…
A “present” vote on a measure to expand abortion coverage in Illinois may cost an Orthodox rabbi — freshman state Rep. Yehiel “Mark” Kalish — his seat in the state House.
That’s if the bill’s sponsor, state Rep. Kelly Cassidy, D-Chicago, and other abortion rights supporters have their way. Cassidy, alongside activists and elected officials such as Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago Commissioner Debra Shore, is planning a “Kalish Lied To Us” news conference on Wednesday morning in Chicago.
The group says Kalish said he’d vote in favor of the bill as part of a requirement of his appointment to the seat. Kalish is the first ordained rabbi to serve in the Illinois General Assembly. […]
But Cassidy isn’t going after any of the other Democrats who either voted no or present. She said she’s singling Kalish out because he’s the only Democrat who changed his vote after making a promise to vote for it.
Cassidy says Kalish told her on the morning of May 28 that he would not be supporting her bill after previously making a commitment to do so. Cassidy also said Kalish spoke to Illinois House Speaker Mike Madigan to tell him of his planned “present” vote and even offered up his resignation over it.
* Jonah Meadows at the Patch…
“In Springfield, the only thing you have is your word. And if you go back on your word, you have nothing,” Cassidy said. “Whether you agree with the fundamental substance of the bill, if you know a member has gone back on a promise like this you can’t trust him to ever make a promise again that you can count on.”
Kalish told Patch he did not believe that his reversal on the RHA had cost him credibility with his fellow legislators.
“I took 5,000 votes this session. We’re talking about one vote that I flip on. Every other vote was consistent. Every other vote. And there were some big votes,” Kalish said. “It hasn’t hindered as of now, I don’t think it will hinder in the future, and if there’s somebody who’s concerned maybe they’ll double check with me and make sure. But I hope that, as my career continues in this, that I’ll have the ability to continue proving myself.”
* Hannah Meisel at the Daily Line…
State Rep. Kelly Cassidy (D-Chicago), the lead sponsor of Reproductive Health Act, said Kalish’s decision blindsided her, especially since he made calls to generate support for the measure. For most of the legislative session, the bill languished in committee.
“In that moment I, quite frankly, really just wanted to get to my roll call and make sure that I could afford to lose that vote,” Cassidy said. “I wanted to go back to preparing for what was going to be a four-hour debate. But I shared a few thoughts with him in that moment, most significantly that I was watching someone I considered a friend throw away a political career.”
Cassidy said Kalish gave her his word that he would support the bill.
“When you make a promise like that, it should be binding,” Cassidy said. “Lots of folks will tell you that in Springfield. The only thing you have is your word.”