CHICAGO (AP) -- A high-ranking state senator confirms that Emil Jones is stepping down as Illinois Senate president.
Senator Rickey Hendon tells The Associated Press that Jones, who's about to turn 73, plans to step down after November's legislative veto session.
His decision leaves a power vacuum in a state marked by discord among its Democratic leaders, and it means unpopular Governor Rod Blagojevich is losing one of his most important political allies.
The Illinois Senate president is well-known for sticking by Blagojevich, but it's Jones' relationship with another Illinois Democrat that might to be the most politically important.
Jones was one Barack Obama's first political mentors, and he had a big hand in Obama's 2004 U.S. Senate win.