CHICAGO (CBS) — After Gov. JB Pritzker lobbied fellow top Democrats to replace Congresswoman Robin Kelly as head of the state party, Kelly on Friday dropped out of the running, acknowledging she doesn’t have the votes.
"Unfortunately, it has become clear that support for my re-election as chair will come up just shy of the necessary majority. Therefore, I have decided to withdraw my name from consideration for chair," Kelly, who was the first woman and first African American elected as chair of the Democratic Party of Illinois, said in a statement Friday afternoon.
Pritzker, who had backed Chicago Ald. Michelle Harris against Kelly in the 2021 race for the state party chair, threw his support behind Illinois State Rep. Lisa Hernandez against Kelly this year.
With Kelly dropping out, Hernandez is now in line to be elected party chair on Saturday.
Kelly was the party’s first new chair since longtime Illinois House Speaker Mike Madigan stepped down as chairman last year, weeks before he was indicted on federal racketeering and bribery charges. While the party’s chair for decades, he used its campaign fund almost exclusively to back Democratic members of the Illinois House, rather than for Democrats in all types of races in Illinois.
Pritzker had objected to Kelly serving as the party’s chair because, as a federally elected official, she is barred from raising funds or spending money on campaigns for non-federal candidates. While she has been chair, the party has used a special committee to oversee such activity.
On Friday, Pritzker said that workaround "wasn’t working," hence his push for Hernandez to be the next party chair.
"The purpose was just to try to free up the party to raise and spend dollars appropriately in this new era for the Democratic Party of Illinois," he said.
Pritzker said Hernandez has offered to allow Kelly to continue heading the party’s fundraising efforts for Congressional candidates as the party’s "federal chair."
Kelly said serving as the party chair "has been a true honor."
"Over the past 16 months, I have had the immense privilege of serving as the chair of the Democratic Party of Illinois. In that time, the DPI has taken dramatic steps forward by modernizing our party operations, developing new and impactful programming, and re-engaging with the national Democratic Party in a way not seen in decades. Simply put, our party has made amazing progress in a short amount of time," she said in a statement.
Region: Chicago,Politics,City: Chicago
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July 29, 2022 at 02:33PM