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Rickey Hendon, outspoken Chicago Democrat, resigns from Illinois Senate

An outspoken Illinois lawmaker from Chicago resigned his office Thursday. Democratic state Sen. Rickey Hendon has represented parts of the city's West Side in the legislature since 1993.

"I have decided to call it a day and retire from this wonderful institution," Hendon wrote in his letter of resignation. "I appreciate my constituents and supporters and I pray that they will accept my decision and allow me to move on with my life."

The senator is known for his spicy sound bites - which at times have gotten him in trouble - and dramatic speeches. In a recent floor debate, he spoke about a bill abolishing the death penalty, which is an issue he has championed for years.

"Because when you put someone to death, it's too late!" Hendon said.

He also gave a speech in favor of legislation allowing for civil unions in Illinois.

"It's not going to destroy America, it's not going to destroy our state," Hendon said. "It's just fairness, ya'll. That's all."

And, in an interview with WBEZ, he spoke about Rahm Emanuel's quest to be mayor.

"I've heard that Rahm Emanuel curses more than Rod Blagojevich," Hendon said. "So let him bring his nasty attitude right on into this race."

A former alderman, Hendon himself flirted with a run for mayor last fall.

Other than to confirm his resignation, Hendon did not answer requests for comment on Thursday. But he has recently complained of high blood pressure. Governor Pat Quinn, a fellow Democrat, alluded to that when asked Thursday about the resignation.

"I've always liked Rickey Hendon," Quinn said. "He has a big heart and a lot of energy. I know he's had a few health problems of late, and I know he's a good man."

During Quinn's recent campaign, Hendon called the governor's opponent, Republican state Sen. Bill Brady, "idiotic, racist, sexist [and] homophobic." Hendon later apologized for those remarks.

Hendon was deeply involved in the campaign of city clerk candidate Patricia Horton, who is currently a Water Reclamation District commissioner. Horton lost by a wide margin in Tuesday's election.

In a failed bid for the Democratic nomination for lieutenant governor last year, Hendon bragged of his ability to bring home state money for his district. Some of those grants have reportedly been the subject of federal subpoenas to state agencies.

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