Emanuel ‘Chris’ Welch named to head panel hearing challenge to Arroyo successor Eva-Dina Delgado

The challenge to the appointment of criminally charged former Rep. Luis Arroyo’s successor — chosen with the help of Arroyo’s votes — picked up some steam on Tuesday with a preliminary meeting scheduled for next week and the naming of a panel chairman who vowed to help restore “trust and confidence in our General Assembly.”

State Rep. Emanuel “Chris” Welch, D-Hillside, will lead the qualifications challenge committee tasked with evaluating complaints related to the appointment of state Rep. Eva-Dina Delgado, whom Democratic leaders chose to replace Arroyo last fall after disregarding warnings to exclude Arroyo’s proxy votes from the selection process.

“It’s no secret that in recent months, bad actors in government have publicly marred the efforts of all legislators who serve with integrity. Restoring trust and confidence in our General Assembly demands we recommit ourselves to our fundamental belief in fairness and justice for all, free of bias or partisan influence,” Welch said in a statement.

Delgado was not immediately available for comment.

The committee will be formed to hear the challenges filed by Illinois House Republican Leader Jim Durkin and Rep. Anne Stava-Murray, D-Naperville, against Delgado’s qualifications. In his challenge, Durkin called for a “clean break” from Arroyo.

State House Republican Leader Jim Durkin, left, in 2018; state Rep. Eva-Dina Delgado, right, last month. File Photos.Rich Hein/Sun-Times

“A clean break from the arrested legislator is required to re-establish the General Assembly’s trust with its constituents,” Durkin wrote in his letter challenging Delgado. “Had the votes of Mr. Arroyo not been part of the selection process, this appointment would not be called into question.”

Delgado was appointed to the seat in November after Arroyo was hit with a federal bribery charge. She is poised to finish out the rest of Arroyo’s term until the winner of this year’s election can be sworn in next January. Delgado faces CPS teacher Nidia Carranza in the Democratic primary.

In a statement, Carranza said she applauds the “creation of a committee to investigate the appointment of corporate lobbyist” Delgado.

State Rep. Eva-Dina Delgado, left, listens as challenger Nidia Carranza speaks during a meeting with the Sun-Times Editorial Board last month. File Photo Rich Hein/Sun-Times

“From the outset, I denounced the appointment process as rigged and corrupt — exactly the opposite of what the working people of the 3rd District deserve,” Carranza said. “The appointment allowed the allies of Luis Arroyo, who has been charged with bribery in federal court, to hand-pick his successor.

“My opponent was not only silent about the obvious ethical concerns surrounding this process, but put her own ambitions ahead of the good of the 3rd District to accept the position. Enough is enough. We don’t need another lobbyist engaging in pay-to-play politics in Springfield. Fortunately, the voters will have their say on March 17,” Carranza’s statement reads.

Democratic ward committeepersons representing parts of the House district made the appointment at a November meeting that sparked an uproar. Ald. Carlos Ramirez-Rosa, who’s also the 35th Ward committeeperson, walked out of the meeting after declaring “the fix is in.”

Even before the ward committeepersons met, Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan warned them that “any involvement” by Arroyo’s 36th Ward organization “whether a direct vote or a vote by proxy would cause the candidate’s qualifications to be challenged by the full Illinois House of Representatives.”

But the ward bosses didn’t heed that warning, and Ald. Ariel Reboyras (30th) served as Arroyo’s proxy, casting the 36th Ward votes and his own for Delgado.

The qualifications committee will meet next Tuesday to establish rules and the process for moving forward.

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