Illinois has a new Speaker of the House

State Rep. Chris Welch (D-Hillside), with 70 votes, is the first African American to become Speaker of the Illinois House. (WJBC file photo)


By Dave Dahl

SPRINGFIELD – The work has just begun for the new Speaker of the Illinois House, to set himself apart from his predecessor, Mike Madigan (D-Chicago).

It took four votes over four days, but Rep. Chris Welch (D-Hillside) is now Speaker. Welch, with 70 votes, is the first African American to become Speaker of the Illinois House.

Republicans are already calling him “Madigan 2.0.” Rep. Mike Zalewski (D-Riverside) addressed that label.

“That is very much for Chris to talk about,” said Zalewski. “I think he has got to go out and explain how he is going to do things different, not only to colleagues, but also the public. We talked about the rebuild, and one thing the rebuild has to do is have a broader brand, and I think that will help. That is what I would recommend to Chris.”

Dave Dahl can be reached at


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