Though he’s drawn criticism from Republicans for his role as chairman of the House Special Investigative Committee that was charged with investigating Madigan last year, Welch and Durkin said they want to work together in the next session.
* Capitol News Illinois…
And while Durkin opened his remarks by saying he was “extending an olive branch of cooperation, starting today,” he then launched a verbal polemic against Madigan, who is leaving the speaker’s office amid a cloud of corruption allegations.
“While his reign as speaker is all but over, his decades in power will never be erased,” Durkin said. “What we have here through this unique and rare opportunity is the ability to break from the past, to break that business model, because they are as apparent as the masks on our face.”
* ABC 7…
“I’m going to operate on good faith, but the way that I’ve seen things happen since the beginning of the special investigative committee till today, and, as I said that I will set the reset button,” Mr. Welch is very close to Speaker Madigan,” Durkin said. “I am extending the olive branch of cooperation starting today.”
“Today will be the last time I talk about us as Democrats or Republicans because I want to talk about us being united,” [Welch] told lawmakers.
So heads turned and some lawmakers booed when House Minority Leader Jim Durkin took his turn to speak and leveled anti-Madigan talking points.
Durkin accused the longtime speaker, who remains head of the Illinois Democratic Party, of leaving a legacy that “failed its citizens with unbalanced budgets, broken pension systems, tax increase after tax increase with nothing to show for it. The saying goes if power corrupts, absolute power corrupts absolutely.”
Lawmakers from both sides of the aisle thought Durkin wasn’t reading the room. Swearing-in events are more about pageantry than politics.
When Welch took questions from reporters — yes, it really is history in the making! — he brushed off Durkin’s vitriol saying, “He’s so conditioned right now to just fight and punch and do things like that… I hope he will see by my actions that this is a new day, a new opportunity to develop a new relationship in this space. It’s hard to just flip the switch when you’ve just been doing something for so long. So I’ll give him a pass today.”
But will Durkin be able to let it go? The Madigan-is-the-root of-all-evil storyline is the crown jewel in the GOP message vault — and so much easier than criticizing the national head of their own party for feeding a toxic environment that helped fuel chaotic and tragic events in Washington.
Two years ago, Rep. Mazzochi gave a nominating speech for Durkin that slammed Madigan, so this isn’t really all that new.
* Near the close of Durkin’s speech…
We must work quickly. We have to work together, because these problems which are identifiable could become unfixable.
Now, there will be suggestions that our Speaker is, and it has been suggested, people will say that nothing is going to change. I’m hopeful that it will change, that we will see a new image and a new future for the General Assembly.
So, Speaker Welch, I would avoid taking hand signals and homing pigeons from the 13th Ward.
Senate Republican Leader McConchie’s speech is here. Quite a contrast. A video package from the Senate Republicans is here.