Senators Meeting Sunday To Elect New President

Jan 17, 2020

Members of the Illinois Senate will gather in the Capitol Sunday to choose a new president.

This is arguably the most important election in Illinois this year, at least in terms of state government and politics.

Senate President John Cullerton, top, is retiring after 11 years in the post. So far the top candidates vying to succeed him are Sens. Kimberly Lightford, bottom left, and Don Harmon, bottom right.
Credit Brian Mackey / NPR Illinois

The Senate president has great power over whether legislation is considered — or killed.

Because Democrats have a supermajority — 40 members to 19 Republicans — the real voting will take place in a secret, closed-door meeting of the Democratic caucus scheduled for 11 a.m.

Once — or if — a senator secures 30 votes, the entire Senate will convene to elect the new president.

So far the top contenders are state Sens. Kimberly Lightford of Maywood and Don Harmon of Oak Park, though in the end someone else could get the nod.

Current Senate President John Cullerton is retiring after more than a decade in the role.

Because of how rare these sorts of openings are in Illinois, the competition is expected to be fierce.