Senate Republican Leader Christine Radogno is resigning as Republican Leader, and from the legislature as of July 1.
In a press conference, Sen Radogno said it was not true that she is resigning due to differences with Gov Rauner, but it’s been know in the Capitol, there’s been behind the scenes strains between Sen Radogno and Gov Rauner, as the state financial crisis continued for years.
This spring, Sen Radogno and Senate President John Cullerton got together to negotiate their own budget agreement, in an effort to get a budget bill moving through the legislature. But when the “Grand Bargain” bills were to be voted on in the Senate, Gov Rauner reportedly called the Republican senators and told them not to vote on the bills.
This came after Radogno had lead Senate President Cullerton to believe there was going to be an agreement that Republicans would vote for passage.
This effort by the Governor, undercut Sen Radogno’s leadership in her own caucus.
Sen Radogno was asked why now? She told reporters that with so many new members of the Republcan Senate caucus, she felt it was important that they didn’t have to vote on a new leader right off the bat, when they didn’t know anyone, so she had stayed on these last two years as leader.
She said after the process of working with Sen Cullerton on the Grand Bargain, she had planned on announcing her retirement at the end of May, but with the failure to pass a budget by that deadline, she felt it important to stay on through June.
Sen Radogno was moved to tears, as she shared that due to the sudden death of a daughter in recent years, she was reminded of the shortness of life, and that at this point, she wanted to leave to have some years left to spend with her family and grandchildren, and that this has been in the forefront of her reasons to leave government service.
In a statement issued just before her press conference, she said, ” I have done everything I can do to resolve the state’s budget crisis. I will continue to do so for the coming days. But if the solution will not come on my watch, I hope and pray that the Governor, other legislative leaders, Democrats and Republicans in the Senate and House can find a path to solve the state’s problems”
In her press conference, Sen Radogno was quick to underscore she believed very much in the Governor’s agenda, but added that “it’s necessary to compromise” to get there.
As to who might follow her as Senate Republican Leader, she told reporters that she didn’t have a candidate she was backing, but that there were a number of good potential candidates, and that she hoped at least one would be a woman.
House Republican Leader, Rep Jim Durkin, with whom she worked closely on legislation, issued the following statement:
“Chris Radogno has been my Senator and Co-Republican Leader for many years. I am fortunate to call her a confidant and friend. Her contributions to her district and the State of Illinois are immeasurable. Chris always stayed above the fray in this very partisan environment. Her constituents and I will miss her valued leadership.”
Sen Radogno was first elected to the Illinois Senate in 1996, and became Republican Leader around the end of 2008, after former Sen Frank Watson suffered a stroke.