Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Madigan Resigns after 50 Years in Legislature & One Month after Being Forced Out as House Speaker

Former Illinois House Speaker Mike Madigan is sworn in as State Representative for the 22nd District on Jan. 13 after losing support for his re-election bid for Speaker, a position he held for all but two years since 1983.

Former Illinois House Speaker Mike Madigan is resigning the seat he has held for the last 50 years, effective at the end of the month.

Madigan went from being the longest-serving House Speaker in the nation to a mere state representative on Jan. 13 — the day he passed his Speaker’s gavel to Chris Welch, who makes history as Illinois’ first Black House Speaker.

That day also happened to mark five decades in the Illinois House for Madigan, who first went to Springfield as a protege of longtime Chicago Mayor Richard J. Daley. As a young delegate to the 1970 constitutional convention, Madigan helped craft the document that defines the bounds of modern Illinois law.

“Fifty years ago, I decided to dedicate my life to public service,” Madigan said in a lengthy statement Thursday. “Simply put, I knew I wanted to make a difference in people’s lives. I believed then and still do today that it is our duty as public servants to improve the lives of the most vulnerable and help hardworking people build a good life.”

Madigan’s support for re-election as House Speaker began to falter last summer, and continued to weaken into the fall as a federal investigation closed in on Madigan’s inner circle. Prosecutors allege the former speaker benefitted from a years-long bribery scheme orchestrated by electric company Commonwealth Edison. 

Madigan has not been charged, but House Democrats — especially progressive and suburban women — were the first to publicly say they would not support him for another term as Speaker after prosecutors revealed the broad outlines of the bribery scheme in mid-July.

Subsequent indictments to those involved in the scheme, including a close friend and confidant of Madigan’s, came in November. The loss of support culminated in Madigan suspending his campaign for re-election as House Speaker during the legislature’s lame duck session in early January. Two days later, Madigan handed off his gavel to Welch and once again became a mere State Representative for the 22nd District.

Madigan remains Chairman of the Democratic Party of Illinois, a role he’s held since 1998.

Hannah covers state government and politics for NPR Illinois and Illinois Public Radio. She previously covered the statehouse for The Daily Line and Law360, and also worked a temporary stint at the political blog Capitol Fax in 2018.