As of early Wednesday, it appeared state Rep. Chris Welch had the most support to be the next House Speaker. If he wins enough votes from fellow reps, he will be the state's first Black person to fill the post. It's a title Michael Madigan has held longer than any other in U.S. history. The question of who will win has eclipsed much of the legislature's lame-duck session this month. Madigan has faced ongoing backlash due to a federal corruption probe. In 2018, he weathered controversy over sexual harassment claims against those in his circle. Women's groups have come together as a coalition to demand that a woman be voted in. "This is about women supporting women, and the time is now," said Alexandra Eidenberg on Tuesday. She is state chair of Vote Mama and founder of We Will. State Rep. Ann Williams challenged Madigan but dropped out after it became clear she couldn't garner enough votes. Keri Tate of Resistor Sisterhood, based in Springfield, said whoever wins must be a dedicated supporter of women, and Madigan's time is up. "We need somebody in there who can focus on our state and our issues – and especially for us, women's issues – and quit sucking up all the air and oxygen with scandal and problems."

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