Barbara Flynn Currie
b. May 3, 1940
Illinois, State Representative (1979-)
House Majority Leader
A Hyde Park native, teeped in the liberal activist politics of her neighborhood and the University of Chicago, Barbara Flynn Currie was a staffer at the National Opinion Research Center when she was elected to the Illinois House in 1978 a leading proponent of the Equal Rights Amendment, environmentalism and the American Civil Liberties Union. By the standards of the time, she was downright radical.
First elected in 1978, Currie is one of the few state legislators with almost as much seniority as Speaker Michael Madigan, which whom she butted heads with regularly earlier in her career, as Madigan was considerably more conservative than her. But her political horse swapping skills and even demeanor has shone through more than her politics, leading Madigan to promote her for the Majority Leader position in 1997, a spot that is elected by fellow members of the legislative party caucus, in this case, the House Democrats. As Majority Leader, she is second in influence in the House only to Speaker Madigan.
Currie is studiously focused on the politics of the House Chamber, leaving neighborhood political wrangling to others, likely a contributor to her longevity. She is also rarely one for the spotlight, as she tends to let her Speaker, Madigan, deal with the outside world. But among state legislators, she is known to be fiercely partisan, often reminding members of their obligations and tallying votes when a difficult measure is under consideration. An exception was during the Gov. Rod Blagojevich administration, when she and the governor publicly butted heads over process. Blagojevich marked her as one of his enemies, as a result.
Because her politics so closely matches her district, and because of her reputation as a devout public servant, Currie has rarely attracted strong opposition at the polls. One exception was in 2006, when Sharon Latiker, an ally of Gov. Blagojevich, ran a well-funded Democratic primary campaign to oust her. Despite Latiker's funding, Currie won the campaign 83-17%
In late 2008, the wheel turned once more, when Gov. Blagojevich was arrested on federal charges, Currie was appointed to her most public role yet, as lead prosecutor in the Illinois House for Blagojevich's successful impeachment.
- 1968, University of Chicago, B.A.
- 1973, University of Chicago, M.A., Political Science
Important Political Events
- 1978, Elected State Representative,
- 1997, Elected Illinois House Majority Leader
- 2006, Reelected State Representative, defeating Sharon Latiker
- 2008, Appointed Chief Prosecutor in House Impeachment of Gov. Rod Blagojevich