|Mike Madigan is the longest-serving House speaker in Illinois history. He controls the legislative map, the legislative process and a property tax law firm that makes millions in Cook County.
But should House Democrats elect Madigan as speaker of the House for the 17th time in January 2017, he’ll be in the national record books as well: No one in modern American history will have held a Statehouse speakership for longer.
By the end of that two-year term, Madigan will have served as Illinois House Speaker for a total of 34 years.
South Carolina’s Solomon Blatt is the longest known House speaker in U.S. history, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. He served a total of 33 years in that position, from 1937 to 1946 and 1951 to 1973.
Tom Murphy of Georgia holds the record for the longest consecutive stretch as House speaker, serving from 1973 to 2002 in the Peach State.
It’s difficult to know whether any 18th or 19th century politicians bested those marks, but it’s improbable to say the least.
“We simply do not know for certain that there were not longer serving speakers in the 1700s and 1800s,” NCSL researcher Tim Storey told the Washington Times in 2014. “It is very unlikely that there were, because legislators and leaders did not generally serve nearly as long then as they do today.”
Madigan is the most powerful politician in Illinois.
He is also the most disliked politician in Illinois – nearly two-thirds of voters disapprove of Madigan. And despite drawing the legislative map, he’s fresh off a loss of his supermajority in the House, losing four Democrat seats on net.
But the speaker seems confident in the vote he needs most to maintain an iron grip on Springfield.
“As you probably know I’ve been talking to the Democratic members of the House and I have overwhelming support to be re-elected as the speaker,” Madigan told reporters after a Nov. 28 legislative leaders meeting.