(The Center Square) – A new era has begun for the Illinois Democratic Party.
Congresswoman Robyn Kelly will take the helm of the state party after defeating Chicago Ald. Michelle Harris by a narrow margin in a vote by members of the Democratic State Central Committee.
A legal opinion questioned whether Kelly was even eligible for the top party job.
An attorney in a Washington D.C. law firm cites federal law that “prohibits a federal officeholder or candidate from directly or indirectly establishing, financing, maintaining or controlling an entity that raises and spends funds outside of federal limits.”
The memo suggests Kelly would be required to resign from Congress to accept the party chair position.
“A suggestion Congresswoman Robin Kelly is ineligible to be the Chair of the Democratic Party of Illinois is false and offensive,” a statement from Kelly’s office said.
As the face of the Democratic Party, Kelly could appeal to younger Democrats as well as Black voters. She replaces longtime former House Speaker Michael Madigan, who had been the party chair from 1998 until stepping down last week.
Harris was backed by Gov. J.B. Pritzker and U.S. Sen. Tammy Duckworth. Kelly had the backing of senior Illinois U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin.