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Senate Republican Leader Bill Brady Resigns

Sen. Bill Brady, R-Bloomington
Brian Mackey/WUIS
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Illinois Senate Republican Leader Bill Brady (R-Bloomington) will resign his Senate seat effective 11:59 p.m. on Thursday — New Year’s Eve.

Brady has led the Republican Caucus in the Senate since mid-2017 when he took over as minority leader in the tense waning days of the state’s two-year budget impasse. Brady took over after former Leader Christine Radogno (R-Lemont) resigned when former Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner interfered in a so-called “Grand Bargain” between Radogno and Democrats.

 

Brady has served in the General Assembly since 1993, first narrowly winning election to the Illinois House over seven-term Republican incumbent Gordon Ropp in 1992. Ten years later, Brady was appointed to Senate, where he has served for the past 18 years.

Brady ran for governor three times, getting closest to winning in 2010 against then-Democratic Gov. Pat Quinn. He lost his 2006 and 2014 bids for the GOP nomination for governor.

Republicans — already a superminority in the Illinois Senate — lost a seat on Election Day in November, even as GOP politicians throughout Illinois and the country did better than expected. After that disappointing showing, Brady’s colleagues selected a new leader, State Sen. Dan McConchie (R-Hawthorn Woods), who was set to take over in mid-January. That transition will now be moved up.

In a statement Thursday, Brady said he was proud of his record in the legislature, and pointed to recent victories like revamping the way Illinois funds schools in 2017 and a $45 billion infrastructure plan passed in 2019. Some of the capital plan depends on revenue from video gaming — an industry Brady profits from.

A joint investigation by ProPublica and WBEZ found Brady is listed in internal gaming board records as a “person with significant influence or control” for Midwest Electronics Gaming, one of Illinois’ largest video gambling companies. Brady recused himself from a 2019 vote significantly expanding the gaming industry in Illinois.

Brady also played a role in defeating Gov. JB Pritzker’s signature graduated income tax amendment at the ballot box in November, which he touted as a victory in his statement Thursday.

Brady is the second Senate leader to leave the chamber in the last year after former Senate President John Cullerton (D-Chicago) resigned in January. His succecessor, Senate President Don Harmon (D-Oak Park), wished Brady well in a statement Thursday. 

"I will miss working with Leader Brady," Harmon said. "He has proven time and again to be a results-driven lawmaker and leader. While we have our political differences, he always came to the negotiating table looking for common ground and success, not conflict."
 

A replacement for Brady must be appointed within 30 days, chosen by the leaders of the local Republican parties in the counties Brady's 44th District seat represents in the Senate.

Correction: An earlier version of this article contained typos that changed the meaning of the story.

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