When Madigan announced he was suspending his campaign on Jan. 11, Welch and Rep. Jay Hoffman, D-Swansea, joined the field of candidates, but Welch was the only candidate to gain the support of 60 of his peers and pass the threshold needed to be elected speaker.
Kifowit said the growing list of candidates was a good thing in that it gave lawmakers a choice that many never had in their entire legislative careers.
“And I think that was my main goal, is that the people of the Illinois House, the Democrats, deserve to have a choice for their speakership. And it turned out that we had five individuals in total running, myself being the first, and now we have a new speaker,” Kifowit said in a phone interview.
Williams stressed the importance of party unity in backing Welch.
“My candidacy and that of the others really served as a catalyst for change,” Williams said. “One thing we could all agree on was that we want the House to function and function effectively. The caucus was very divided. Moving forward with a coalition really helped unify the caucus.”
Williams said she was optimistic that members of the Women’s Caucus “cracked the glass ceiling” by launching their candidacies and joining the coalitions that led to Welch’s selection as speaker.
“I think that one important thing to note is that women sometimes make it less about themselves and more about the collective. I think that’s a very powerful tool,” she said.
January 26, 2021 at 07:38PM