SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (NEXSTAR) — Senator Don Harmon, a Democrat from Oak Park with a proven prowess in political fundraising and ground game campaign chops, was elected the 39th President of the Illinois Senate on Sunday in a special session.
Outgoing Senate President John Cullerton, a Chicago Democrat, offered a brief but emotional farewell.
Senate Majority Leader Kim Lightford, once considered a front-runner for the top job, conceded after it became clear she was unlikely to garner enough support to reach 30 votes, and she nominated Harmon for the job. Harmon hugged her immediately afterwards, and affirmed she would stay on as Majority Leader.
Harmon also called for state lawmakers to “reset the tone of the culture” in the legislature after a number of Senators came under federal or state investigation in recent months.
“60 years ago, John F. Kennedy said, ‘No responsibility of government is more fundamental than the responsibility of maintaining the highest standard of ethical behavior for those who conduct the public business,'” Harmon said.
Although his two-year term as Minority Leader doesn’t end until 2021, 12 of 19 Senate Republicans voted for Minority Leader Bill Brady as Senate President. Five of the Republican members didn’t show up. Two others, Senators Dale Righter and Jason Plummer, waited in the Republican offices for most of the day, and eventually left before the voice vote on the floor. Righter later said he left for a family commitment.