The Latest: Drury invokes poet Frost to explain Madigan vote

January 11, 2017 GMT

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) — The latest on the inauguration of the 100th Illinois General Assembly (all times local):

2:45 p.m.

The lone Democrat who did not vote for Michael Madigan as House speaker likens himself to the traveler in the famous Robert Frost poem who took the road “less traveled by.”

Rep. Scott Drury is a Highwood Democrat beginning his third term. He voted “present” in the tally for speaker. Madigan won his 17th term Wednesday.

Drury says his vote was “not about” Madigan. But he says his constituents are looking for answers to a two-year budget stalemate that has Illinois in “free fall.”

Madigan declined comment afterward. Drury said he expects repercussions, “with history as a guide.”

Drury explained in a statement that he was voting the way his constituents wanted. He invoked Frost’s traveler in the 1916 narrative poem, “The Road Not Taken.” When the traveler reached a fork, he bucked the norm and found that it “made all the difference.”


2:25 p.m.

The Illinois Senate has voted unanimously to limit its president and minority leader to five terms in those posts.

The newly elected minority leader promised the idea would be the subject of a constitutional amendment in the future.

The term limits on leaders is a key demand of Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner as part of a budget agreement. The Democratic-controlled Senate voted 58-0 to adopt the resolution sponsored by Deerfield Democratic Sen. Julie Morrison.

It’s imposed by Senate rule and does not apply to House members or the governor. But to change the rule, another Senate would have to vote to reverse it.

Senate Republican Leader Christine Radogno (ruh-DOHN’-yoh) says the rule “demonstrates we’re serious about this.” A constitutional amendment would apply to the House as well, she said.


1:50 p.m.

Illinois Senate President John Cullerton says “the state needs a budget. Period.”

Cullerton addressed lawmakers, their families and guests after he was elected to a fifth term as president of the chamber. The 100th General Assembly was seated Wednesday after its predecessor went two years without agreeing to a budget plan with Gov. Bruce Rauner.

The Republican governor was in attendance when Cullerton declared the stand off “as ridiculous as it is frustrating.”

Republican Sen. Christine Radogno (ruh-DOHN’-yoh) was elected minority leader by acclamation. She noted that a proposed budget solution she negotiated with Cullerton in recent weeks would be introduced as legislation Wednesday.

Radogno says it’s time to “jump-start the General Assembly” and that “collectively, we have the power of a solution.”


1:25 p.m.

Already the longest-serving state House speaker nationwide, Chicago Democrat Michael Madigan has been elected to a 17th term.

The 74-year-old was voted speaker on Wednesday over Republican Jim Durkin 66-51. The vote was split along party lines, aside from Democrat Rep. Scott Drury who voted present.

The vote came as members of the 100th Illinois General Assembly were sworn into office amid a nearly two-year budget impasse.

Madigan tells fellow lawmakers that the last two years have been “extremely difficult” for the state, but there’s a chance to move forward in the months ahead.

Republicans funded by Gov. Bruce Rauner had waged a campaign in recent weeks to urge House Democrats to reject Madigan. Madigan has been a state representative since 1971. He was elected speaker in 1983 and held the position for all but two years after.

Protesters, both for and against Madigan, rallied outside the venue.


1:20 p.m.

Chicago Democrat John Cullerton has been elected president of the Illinois Senate for a fifth two-year term.

Cullerton was elected by the Senate composed of 37 Democrats and 22 Republicans. Sen. Christine Radogno (ruh-DOHN’-yoh) of Lemont was elected minority leader after receiving a nomination for president as well.

The 68-year-old Cullerton is a lawyer who was elected to the House in 1978 and moved to the Senate in 1991.

He was elevated to the presidency in 2009 and immediately led the chamber through the impeachment trial of former Gov. Rod Blagojevich (bluh-GOY’-uh-vich). Blagojevich was removed from office and later sentenced to federal prison for political corruption.

Cullerton’s last term expired Tuesday after two years in which the Democratic-controlled General Assembly failed to reach a budget agreement with Gov. Bruce Rauner.


11:30 a.m.

Chicago Democrat Michael Madigan would become the nation’s longest-serving state House speaker in at least a century if he’s elected to a 17th term and completes its two years.

Madigan — a member of the Illinois House since 1971 — has held the top job for a total of 32 years. The Illinois Campaign for Political Reform reports that Democrat Solomon Blatt of South Carolina served 33 years — from 1937 to 1946 and again from 1951 to 1973.

If chosen again after inauguration of the 100th General Assembly Wednesday, Madigan would eclipse Blatt’s record halfway through his term. Madigan was elected speaker in 1983 but lost his majority from 1995 to 1997 before retaking it.

The Campaign for Political Reform found that the longest consecutive string of leadership as speaker is 30 years and belongs to Democrat Tom Murphy of Georgia, from 1973 to 2003.


10:20 a.m.

The 100th Illinois General Assembly is being seated and one question is whether Chicago Democrat Michael Madigan will have any bumps on his way to election to a 17th term as House speaker.

Members of the House and Senate will elect their leaders Wednesday before they buckle down to construct an annual budget plan. That’s something their predecessors couldn’t do in two years.

Republicans funded by Gov. Bruce Rauner have waged a campaign in recent weeks to urge House Democrats to reject Madigan. Madigan has been a state representative since 1971. After election as speaker in 1983, he has held the gavel for all but two years since.

In the Senate, another Chicago Democrat, John Cullerton, is poised to take the helm for his fifth term.