When Republicans Voted For Speaker Madigan

Jan 10, 2017

State Rep. Michael Madigan on Wednesday will seek his 17th term as speaker of the Illinois House of Representatives. He's not expected to have any trouble winning.

Gov. Bruce Rauner and his fellow Republicans have spent years vilifying Madigan. But lately the party has gone further, trying to sway House Democrats away from re-electing Madigan as their leader.

Republican interference in the House Democratic leadership election is not just a departure from political norms. It's also a huge departure from Illinois history.

Madigan has so far been elected speaker 16 times. But it’s often overlooked that more often than not, he’s done so with the vote of every Republican in the House.

Year after year — nine times in all — Republicans joined with Democrats to elect Madigan in a symbolic display of bipartisan cooperation. It took the form of a vote “by acclamation,” a voice vote.

The second time it happened, in 1985, Republican Leader Lee Daniels said he and Madigan had "managed to quiet the sometimes vain voice of partisan controversy.”

Current Republican leader Jim Durkin was among the Republicans who elected Madigan speaker in this way — four times. Madigan and his fellow Democrats returned the gesture when Republicans took the majority for two years beginning in 1996.

This year, Rauner's Republican Party has been relentlessly attacking Democrats for supporting a man who once enjoyed goodwill on both sides of the aisle.

Here’s a breakdown of speaker elections by General Assembly (the secretary of state, presiding over the session, did not announce vote totals for acclamation elections until 2001):

  • 83rd (1983): Madigan elected speaker for the first time, by acclamation at Daniels’ suggestion. Because it was believed at least one person needed to vote for Daniels in order for him to become the minority leader, Madigan asked that he be recorded voting for Daniels.
  • 84th (1985): Madigan elected speaker by acclamation; he votes for Daniels.
  • 85th (1987): Madigan elected speaker on a partisan vote of 66-51, with Democratic Rep. Richard Mautino casting a lone “present” vote.
  • 86th (1989): Madigan elected speaker on a partisan roll call vote of 67-51.
  • 87th (1991): Madigan elected speaker by acclamation; he votes for Daniels.
  • 88th (1993): Madigan elected speaker on a partisan roll call vote of 65-51.
  • 89th (1995): Daniels elected speaker by acclamation; he votes for Madign.
  • 90th (1997): Madigan elected speaker on a partisan roll call vote of 60-58.
  • 91st (1999): Madigan elected speaker by acclamation; he votes for Daniels.
  • 92nd (2001): Madigan elected speaker by acclamation 117-1; he votes for Daniels.
  • 93rd (2003): Madigan elected speaker by acclamation 117-1; he votes for Rep. Tom Cross.
  • 94th (2005): Madigan elected speaker by acclamation 117-1; he votes for Cross.
  • 95th (2007): Madigan elected speaker by acclamation 115-1; he votes for Cross.
  • 96th (2009): Madigan elected speaker on a partisan roll call vote of 70-48.
  • 97th (2011): Madigan elected speaker by acclamation 115-1; he votes for Cross.
  • 98th (2013): Madigan elected speaker on a partisan roll call vote of 71-47.
  • 99th (2015): Madigan elected speaker on a partisan roll call vote of 70-46.