Illinois replaces longest-serving legislative leader in US

Springfield, Ill. (AP) — The Illinois House has elected its first black speaker to replace the longest-serving legislative leader in modern U.S. history.

Rep. Emanuel “Chris” Welch will take over the gavel from Michael Madigan, who has led the chamber 36 of the last 38 years but was facing a bribery investigation.

Madigan issued a statement conceding that “it is time for new leadership in the House” after a morning Democratic caucus cast a majority of its votes for Welch.

Welch, an eight-year House veteran from the Chicago suburb of Hillside, garnered 70 votes from the 118-member House. Had Madigan sought retention, Democrats who dominate the chamber might have been forced into a drawn-out leadership battle.