* Press release…
Oak Park Democrat Don Harmon has the support of the Illinois Senate Democratic Caucus to be Illinois Senate President in the 102nd General Assembly.
“I am honored and humbled to have the support of my colleagues to serve as president of the Illinois Senate. We have a fantastically talented collection of Senate Democrats who are ready to make their mark, solve problems and lead Illinois through an upcoming year that will be filled with both challenges and accomplishments,” Harmon said after the vote.
Senate Democrats caucused virtually Thursday regarding the upcoming session.
The Illinois Senate Democratic caucus will have 41 members for the 102nd General Assembly, which is scheduled to begin on Jan. 13, 2021. One of the first official actions of a new General Assembly is to elect the Senate President and minority leader posts. In the Senate, the governor presides over the chamber until the Senate President is elected.
Harmon was elected Senate President earlier this year by his colleagues to serve out the remainder of the two-year leadership term previously held by Sen. John Cullerton, who retired from office at the start of 2020.
During Harmon’s first session as Senate President, the COVID-19 global pandemic forced the cancelation of much of the 2020 spring legislation session. Faced with ongoing public health concerns regarding large gatherings, the Senate embraced technology and in May adopted official rules for online hearings so the Senate’s work could continue. In the wake of George Floyd’s murder and Black Lives Matter marches, the Legislative Black Caucus under the leadership of Senate Majority Leader Kimberly A. Lightford quickly embraced the new online Senate committee process and launched a series of hearings on racial and social justice in an effort to build a legislative agenda to address systemic racism in Illinois.
Harmon, 54, was first elected to the Illinois Senate in 2002. He lives in Oak Park with his wife Teresa. They have three children. He has a BA from Knox College in Galesburg, and a law degree and MBA in economics from the University of Chicago.
Harmon is an avid guitar player and founding member of the bipartisan Boat Drink Caucus band.
Speaker Madigan is currently embroiled in a reelection battle, Senate Republican Leader Bill Brady was ousted by his caucus and House GOP Leader Jim Durkin defeated a challenge. Harmon won his chamber’s top job a year ago after a bitter battle, but he had an easy ride to a full term.
He also gave Lightford the reins to manage much of the online Senate committee process, including hearings on racial and social justice issues.
On Thursday, she nominated Harmon to keep the Senate gavel, a sign of his ability to unite the caucus.