By GREG BISHOP for the ILLINOIS RADIO NETWORK
SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (IRN) — Senators plan to return to Springfield on Sunday to pick the chamber’s next leader and whoever is picked will only be allowed to serve in that capacity for a decade.
After the Senate adjourned on the final day of the fall legislative session, Senate President John Cullerton, D-Chicago, announced his retirement. Senators will pick his successor over the weekend.
While it was a different chamber, longtime state politics professor Kent Redfield recalled that in 1972 selecting the leader of the House took 93 ballots.
“The Democrats took control of the House, they deadlocked after 93 ballots I think,” Redfield said. “There was a compromise candidate, a DuPage County Democrat who got Republican votes. … At one time the Illinois Senate took 173 votes and about a month to get a presiding officer.”
Redfield said he doesn’t expect there to be any deadlocked votes or party crossover on Sunday because Democrats have a supermajority.
“This is kind of a contest where people go out and raise money,” Redfield said.
When senators return, they are expected to go into private Democrat and Republican meetings. Immediately after, they’ll open session with Gov. J.B. Pritzker presiding over the vote for the next senate president.
While Cullerton isn’t leaving because of term limits, as he had seven years left to serve in that capacity, the next Senate President would only be allowed to serve for 10 years, according to Senate rules. Redfield said that could change.
“These are rules, rather than a constitutional provision, so they can always change the rules,” he said.
Susan Garrett, a former state legislator who now leads the Center for Illinois Politics, said Democrats and Republicans agreed to limit leadership terms in the Senate.
“The House has not – and I think that’s why we’re seeing [term limit measures filed at the statehouse], so they should actually mirror each other, the House and the Senate, in term limits,” she said.
While House Democrats don’t have limits on leadership in their rules, House Republicans do. There won’t be a new election for House Speaker until 2022 when a new legislature is seated. House Speaker Michael Madigan recently marked his 35th year as Speaker of the House. Madigan also serves as chairman of the Democratic Party of Illinois.