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Welch on Democrats winning largest House supermajority in modern Illinois history: 'People underestimated the power of women'

Illinois House Speaker Chris Welch teased a ban on assault weapons, more affordable college tuition, and tweaks to the SAFE-T Act law that abolishes cash bail.

SPRINGFIELD, Illinois — Illinois House Democrats voted to re-elect Speaker Chris Welch (D-Hillside) to lead the chamber for another two-year term after the party picked up five more seats in the 2022 midterms.

With 78 seats, the new incoming General Assembly will feature the largest supermajority in the Illinois House history since the 1980 cutback amendment reduced the number of legislators by one-third. 

"Our message resonated with voters," Welch said in retrospect. "Certainly, our economic message resonated with voters. But the Dobbs decision was monumental. It was huge here in Illinois, and that really helped Democrats."

Welch sat down for a one-on-one interview on Tuesday morning and said "Roe-vember" helped Democrats beat back a "red wave."

"People underestimated the power of women," Welch said. "They underestimated the power of 18- to 24-year-olds, and those people came out and spoke in droves."

Welch said "there's more to do" to expand or protect abortion access in Illinois, "because right now, we're a single legislature or a single Supreme Court away from losing those rights."

Welch graded the GOP crime-heavy campaign strategy as an 'F' that "clearly failed."

He suggested the General Assembly could advance a ban on assault weapons and create options for more affordable college tuition in the upcoming spring budget process. 

Welch suggested Republicans might re-evaluate their campaign message after losing ground. 

"Hopefully they will learn from the lesson of this election that extremism is not the order of the day," he said. "Hopefully, they can come a little bit more toward the middle, and we can all work together and find some compromise and continue to move Illinois forward."

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