WSIL-TV reports State Rep Brandon Phelps intends to resign from his office in the very near future, due to a continuing problem with an eye injury. In recent months, he’s been plagued with repeated issues with his eye that was injured several years ago from a hunting accident.
Phelps, a conservative Democrat, has been a strong supporter of gun rights over his 15 years in office, and was the principal sponsor for the Concealed Carry bill which passed several years ago.
Phelps leaving the legislature, would open another seat for Republicans to target, in an area of the state that’s moved from strong Democratic support to the Republican side. In the last election, Rep John Bradly (D) was defeated, as was State Senator Gary Forby (D). Phelps was also going to be targeted by the Republicans in the 2018 election. His early resignation would allow the Democratic Party to select a replacement, who could then serve through the 2018 election.
Phelps was first elected in 2002 and served on the Appropriations Cmte for Higher Education, with SIU-Carbondale being the primary employer in his area of the state.
His resignation is one more of an increasingly high rate of turnover in the legislature, with at least seven Republican members deciding to leave, and several Democratic representatives, including vetern Elaine Nekritz. Behind the scenes many complain of the breakdown in collegiality in the legislature, the frustrations with the standoff over the last several years, when no budgets were being passed, and the extreme cost of running for a seat, which can now run between one to two million dollars for a House seat. That cost of campaigning means that there is a constant pressure to raise money for re-election.