SPRINGFIELD, Ill. – Congresswoman Robin Kelly has been elected Chair of the Democratic Party of Illinois, defeating 8th Ward Alderman Michelle Harris.
Kelly replaces former House Speaker Michael Madigan, who held the chairman post since 1998.
“Tonight we made history together,” Kelly said to the Democratic State Central Committee Wednesday night. “We as Democrats are at our best when we have vigorous debate, and then come together for the betterment of the party and our country. I want to thank the members of the State Central Committee for your support and vote of confidence. I look forward to working collaboratively with you as we strengthen our party and work together to build a bench across our 102 Counties.
As President Obama said ‘We can disagree without being disagreeable.'”
Kelly bested Harris, who was backed by Gov. Pritzker, Sen. Tammy Duckworth and Cook County Clerk Karen Yarbrough. WGN reported Tuesday that a memo commissioned by Yarbrough questioned Kelly’s eligibility as a top party leader because she holds federal office.
“A suggestion Congresswoman Robin Kelly is ineligible to be the Chair of the Democratic Party of Illinois is false and offensive,” a statement read in response.
Kelly fired back Tuesday in a message to insiders saying, “Change isn’t easy. And it’s clear some are resistant to opening up the party and being inclusive.”
Kelly was backed by Sen. Dick Durbin and Congressman Jesus “Chuy” Garcia.
The vote took place Wednesday evening.