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U.S. Rep. Robin Kelly Elected Illinois Democratic Party Chair

CHICAGO (CBS) -- U.S. Rep. Robin Kelly (D-Illinois) was elected Chairwoman of the Democratic Party of Illinois on Wednesday, nine days after Mike Madigan stepped down from the helm.

Kelly is the first Black woman elected to the position.

Vice Chair and Cook County Clerk Karen Yarbrough had been acting as interim chair.

In accepting the chairwomanship, Kelly invoked her experience in the U.S. House during the Capitol riot in Washington, D.C. on Jan. 6, and proclaimed that American democracy was under siege.

"Yes, in State after State Republicans are trying to roll back voting rights, suppress the rights of people of color to vote, and trample on what makes Democracy sacred: the right of all people to participate in the process," Kelly said. "I was in the House chamber, trapped in the gallery when a violent mob invaded the greatest symbol of democracy in the history of the world. I stood with my fellow members, elected representatives of the people, as insurrectionists, fed the big lie, for the first time in American History attempted to prevent the peaceful transfer of power."

Kelly called for "fighting back," and added, "(W)ith your help, the same Illinois party that elected the first African Woman to the United States Senate, sent the first African American President to the White House, and had so many other firsts, will lead the way once again."

Madigan resigned his party chairmanship four days after he gave up his seat as a state representative . That in turn was a little more than a month after surrendering the gavel as Speaker of the Illinois House.

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