Radogno sends shockwave with sudden resignation from Senate
Illinois Senate Minority Leader Christine Radogno (R-Lemont) surprised many lawmakers and political watchers when she resigned her leadership position and Senate seat.
Her announcement June 30 came amid a special legislative session and budget talks – with which she has been heavily engaged – that were making little progress. She said she originally hoped to leave sooner.
“I became involved in the ‘Grand Bargain,’ and it was my initial hope that my natural break point would be sending my 'Grand Bargain' over to the House," Radogno, 64, said at a press conference. "As you all know, that didn’t happen, but I wanted to continue and stay and try to get a resolution because I understand that the state is in a very difficult spot. I decided to stay until May 31. Obviously, we flipped into special session, but there were still discussions going on, and I thought the next natural break is the end of the fiscal year (on June 30). The end of the fiscal year is here, and I’m not sure that there is another natural break coming anytime soon.”
Her resignation came at a precarious time, as lawmakers remained at odds on a budget and reforms for the state and Gov. Bruce Rauner threatened to keep lawmakers on the clock to prevent Illinois from facing a third year without a budget.
Radogno said she wasn't resigning because of the lack of budget progress.
“I can expel that unequivocally,” Radogno said. “I was disappointed … that it didn’t happen. If that was my motivation, I would have been gone then. I really wanted to continue to try to deal with the hand we’ve been dealt and try to get to a place where we have the agreement.”
Regardless of the tense stalemate, Radogno said she is proud of the work that has been done in Springfield but ready to move on.
“I feel positive about the work that I’ve done,” she said. “I feel positive about all the efforts that have been put in by the governor and by all four leaders. Every single person has contributed, I think, to where this state, I hope, goes eventually. The fact of the matter is that I am ready to focus on my personal life.”
She said her biggest concern about leaving office is the transitional logistics, which she hoped would be a speedy and orderly process.
“Whenever this is resolved ... I wish everybody involved, especially the people of Illinois, success and that we can get back on track and become once again the great state we have the potential to be," she said.
Radogno has served in the Illinois Senate since 1997 and became the first woman to lead a political party in the Illinois General Assembly. She is in her third term as minority leader – a role she took over in 2008.
She said she plans to spend her retirement with her family and traveling.
State Bill Brady (R-Bloomington) was selected by the Republican Caucus to take over as Senate minority leader.
Local Republican Party committee members will determine who fills the Senate District 41 seat vacated by Radogno. Two-thirds of her seat is in DuPage County and a third is in Cook and Will counties.
Candidates to fill Radogno's seat include DuPage County Board members John Curran and Gary Grasso, who formerly served as Burr Ridge mayor, and Willowbrook Mayor Frank Trilla.