U.S. Rep. Robin Kelly drops bid for reelection as state Democratic chair, clearing way for Pritzker’s candidate, state Rep. Elizabeth Hernandez

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U.S. Rep. Robin Kelly dropped her bid Friday to continue as chair of the Illinois Democratic Party amid an intense pressure campaign from Gov. J.B. Pritzker, clearing the way for his choice, state Rep. Elizabeth Hernandez, to win election to the post.

Kelly, a five-term congresswoman from Matteson, announced she was withdrawing from the contest just hours after four Latino members of the Democratic State Central Committee, led by Kelly’s congressional colleague, U.S. Rep. Jesus “Chuy” Garcia, said their votes would go to Hernandez.

“I was elected as the first woman and the first Black chair of the DPI (Democratic Party of Illinois) because of my vision for an inclusive, diverse and people-first party,” Kelly said in a statement. “Unfortunately, it has become clear that support for my reelection as chair will come up just shy of the necessary majority. Therefore, I have decided to withdraw my name from consideration for chair.”

U.S. Rep. Robin Kelly of Matteson speaks at the Illinois Democratic County Chair’s Association brunch in Springfield before Governor’s Day at the Illinois State Fair, Aug. 18, 2021. (E. Jason Wambsgans / Chicago Tribune)

Kelly was elected party chair in March of last year to fill the remainder of the term of former House Speaker Michael Madigan, who withdrew from the party leadership post he held for decades after being implicated in a scandal in which Commonwealth Edison agreed to pay a $200 million fine for actions aimed at influencing him in the General Assembly. Madigan has since been indicted on federal corruption charges and has pleaded not guilty.

Kelly’s statement made no mention of her expected successor, Hernandez, of Cicero.

The state’s Democratic Central Committee meets Saturday to vote on a new chair.

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July 29, 2022 at 03:48PM

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