Democratic Party of Illinois
|Senate leader||John Cullerton|
|House leader||Michael Madigan|
|National affiliation||Democratic Party|
|Seats in the Upper House||
39 / 59
|Seats in the Lower House||
71 / 118
The Democratic Party of Illinois is the affiliate of the Democratic Party in the state of Illinois. It is the oldest extant state party in Illinois and, along with the Green and Republican Parties, one of just three recognized parties in the state.
The Democratic Party of Illinois took shape during the late 1830s. Prior to that time, Illinois did not have organized political parties; instead, political competition in the state was more personalist, with prominent factions centered on Governors Ninian Edwards and Shadrach Bond. As the Democratic and Whig Parties began to form at the national level during the late 1820s and 1830s, Illinois politicians began sorting themselves accordingly and, in the summer of 1837, leading Democrats met to lay the groundwork for a Democratic Party organization in the state.
Before 2010, the party had been extremely successful in statewide elections for the past decade. In 1992, Carol Moseley Braun became the first African American woman to be elected to the United States Senate. Her election marked the first time Illinois had elected a woman, and the first time a black person was elected as a Democratic Party candidate to the United States Senate. A second African American Democratic Senator, Barack Obama was elected in 2004, and later elected President of the United States in 2008. The party currently holds a majority in both the Illinois Senate and Illinois House of Representatives.
Organization and leadership
The Democratic Party of Illinois is run by a Democratic State Central Committee of 38 members, two from each of the state's 19 congressional districts. The Central Committee has four officers: a chairman, a vice-chair, a secretary, and a treasurer.
Calvin Sutker of Skokie served as state party chairman until 1986 when he lost his committeeman seat to reform Democrat Jeffrey Paul Smith. Sutker was succeeded by Vince Demuzio, who served from 1986–1990 and is credited with rebuilding the Illinois Democratic Party. Demuzio was then defeated by the then-chief of staff for Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan, Gary LaPaille. Madigan himself succeeded LaPaille and is the current Chairman of the Democratic Party of Illinois.
Cook County Democratic Party
The Cook County Democratic Party represents voters in 50 wards in the city of Chicago and 30 suburban townships of Cook County. The organization has dominated Chicago politics (and consequently, Illinois politics) since the 1930s. It relies on a tight organizational structure of ward and township committeemen to elect candidates.
- Wingert, Pat (1986-03-20). "Stunned Democrats Agonize on LaMess". Chicago Tribune. pp. 3 (Chicagoland, Sec. C).
- Illinois Secretary of State (2005). 2005-2006 Illinois Handbook of Government (PDF). p. 51.