House hopeful cheers Phelps' resignation, hopes Madigan is next
Former Rep. Brandon Phelps (D-Harrisburg) isn't House Speaker Michael Madigan (D-Chicago), but his resignation might make it a little easier to see Madigan do the same, according to Massac County State’s Attorney Patrick Windhorst.
"Right now our representative is supporting Mike Madigan," Windhorst said while announcing his decision to run for the 118th House District seat. "Mike Madigan is holding back all of the reforms that are going to turn our state around. Until we can remove Madigan, we're not going to have the change we need, and to to remove Madigan we've got to remove Phelps."
Massac County Democratic Chairman Jeff Stafford reportedly told the Associated Press that he is uncertain about the process to replace Phelps, who resigned Sept. 1. The process usually requires the county chairmen in the legislative district – in this case Democrat and Massac County Chairman Jeff Weber – to meet with candidates for the seat and hold a vote on a replacement.
Phelps, who held the House seat since 2003, said in a brief statement that he was stepping down due to health concerns.
"It has been my privilege to serve the people of the 118th District," Phelps said. "My heart will always reside in southern Illinois."
Windhorst, who has been Massac County state's attorney since Nov. 2, 2004, now will face an unknown opponent in next year's election. He said he decided to run following Phelps's vote to override Gov. Bruce Rauner's veto of the state budget earlier this summer.
"His vote for the tax increase this year, to me that showed he's gone well beyond even support of Madigan, to completely adopting his agenda," Windhorst told the Southeast Illinois News.
He also said he has been angered by the direction Illinois is headed, especially the southern part of the state.
"A lot of people are moving away, and the first thing we need to do is remove Madigan," Windhorst said. "We need to make the state more attractive to people and businesses by addressing things like property taxes and workman’s compensation.”
Windhorst, his wife, Holly, and two children live in Metropolis, a few blocks from the state’s attorney's office, according to the biography on his website. Windhorst is the grandson of an ironworker, a graduate of Massac County High School and Shawnee Community College, and later earned his law degree with honors from Southern Illinois University, according to his biography.
Windhorst is a Metropolis Rotary Club member and former board member and past president of the Massac County Mental Health Board.