Mayor Lori Lightfoot on state Democratic Party chair race: ‘I love both Robin Kelly and Michelle Harris’

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Gregory Pratt, Chicago Tribune
·2 min read
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Mayor Lori Lightfoot declined to publicly take sides in the battle for state Democratic Party chair between her City Council floor leader, Ald. Michelle Harris, and longtime political ally U.S. Rep. Robin Kelly.

“I don’t have to pick one, I’m not a state committeeman,” Lightfoot said Tuesday during an unrelated news conference. “I love both Robin Kelly and Michelle Harris. They are both my friends. They have both supported me.”

Former longtime Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan resigned as state Democratic Party chair on Monday, one day after anointing a 26-year-old constituent services worker to fill the legislative seat he held for a half-century.

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His resignation as the head of the state party, a post he’s held since 1998, completes the swift downfall that began when fellow House Democrats deposed him as speaker last month after he held the gavel for nearly four decades. He resigned his seat as state representative for the Southwest Side 22nd House District on Thursday.

Gov. J.B. Pritzker and U.S. Sen. Tammy Duckworth issued a joint statement Monday backing Harris to be the next party chair. U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin and Cook County Circuit Court Clerk Iris Martinez endorsed Kelly.

Kelly was one of a small number of politicians who endorsed Lightfoot for mayor in the first round of the 2019 race, when she was still considered a long shot. Harris is her new floor leader and responsible for pushing her agenda forward in the City Council.

Though she didn’t endorse a candidate, Lightfoot said the “significant transition” gives the party leadership an opportunity to modernize the party, build a pipeline for young talent, rejuvenate young Democrats in Cook County and across the state, and use effective tools to reach people on the web.

gpratt@chicagotribune.com

Twitter @royalpratt