The Daily Brew: Longest-serving state house speaker to resign

Welcome to the Friday, Feb. 19, Brew. Here’s what’s in store for you as you start your day:

  1. Former Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan resigns
  2. 71 new members of Congress were elected last year
  3. Voters recall Colorado school board member

Former Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan resigns

Former Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan (D) announced yesterday that he would resign from the legislature. He has been a member of the state House since 1971. 

Madigan served as House speaker from 1983 until 1995 and again from 1997 to 2021. Republicans controlled the chamber for two years after the 1994 elections. In 2017, Madigan became the longest-serving state House speaker in U.S. history.

After several individuals were indicted in what law enforcement described as a scheme to influence Madigan, 19 of 73 House Democrats said in December they would not support Madigan for another term as speaker. 

Chris Welch (D) was elected to succeed Madigan as speaker on Jan. 13. Welch has served in the Illinois House of Representatives since 2013 and is Illinois’ first Black speaker.

In Illinois, the party organization of the departing member in the district where the vacancy occurs has 30 days to appoint a replacement. The partisan composition of the Illinois House of Representatives is 73 Democrats and 45 Republicans.

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71 new members of Congress were elected last year

Voters nationwide elected 71 new members—nine senators and 62 representatives—to Congress on Nov. 3 or in subsequent runoff elections. This figure includes Luke Letlow (R-La.), who was elected Dec. 5 and died from complications related to COVID-19 on Dec. 29, before taking office.

The newly-elected officials have been in office for a bit more than six weeks. Here’s a quick refresher about them. Those 71 new members included the following:

  • Candidates from the opposing party defeated five incumbent senators—one Democrat and four Republicans. 
  • Republican challengers defeated 13 Democratic representatives.
  • 53 new members—four senators and 49 representatives—were elected to open seats. Five House seats were vacant heading into the Nov. 3 elections. Four senators and 36 House members did not run for re-election, and eight House members were defeated in a primary or nominating convention.

The 116th Congress, which convened after the 2018 elections, had 102 new members—nine senators and 93 representatives. The 115th Congress in 2016 had 62 new members—seven senators and 55 U.S. House members.

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Voters recall Colorado school board member 

Last Friday’s Brew discussed the latest on the recall effort against California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D). Supporters there have until March 17 to collect 1,495,709 valid signatures to trigger a recall election. Meanwhile, voters in a Colorado school district this week decided the first recall election this year against any officeholder we’re tracking.

Voters recalled Lance McDaniel, 67% to 33%, from the Montezuma-Cortez School Board on Feb. 16. Cortez had a population of 8,482 as of the 2010 census and is located in Montezuma County in the southwest corner of Colorado. McDaniel was one of seven members of the board and was appointed in 2018. Cody Wells was elected to replace him on the board. 

Recall supporters started the effort against McDaniel in July 2020. The statement of grounds for recall said McDaniel had shown a “lack of leadership and has proven to be a poor role model for our children,” regarding his social media posts. 

McDaniel told KSJD-TV he was not concerned about the recall effort. McDaniel said, “When it gets down to it, I’m a loudmouth liberal, and they don’t like that.” McDaniel also said he stood by his social media posts.

According to the Colorado Department of Education, the Montezuma-Cortez School District had an enrollment of 2,607 students as of the 2020-2021 school year.

Ballotpedia covered a total of 226 recall efforts against 272 elected officials last year, including 55 school board members. Five school board members faced recall elections last year, and all five were removed from office. Another five school board members targeted for recall resigned. 

Three other recall elections against school board members have been scheduled so far this year. All three are in Idaho and will occur on March 9.

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