Republican state rep launches bid for Illinois Secretary of State

Dan Brady announced his candidacy at the Union League Club Wednesday and featured early supporters including House Republican Leader Jim Durkin.

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State Rep. Dan Brady, R-Bloomington, (center) officially launches his campaign for Illinois Secretary of State on Nov. 17, 2021.

Rachel Hinton/ Chicago Sun-Times

State Rep. Dan Brady officially kicked off his campaign to succeed outgoing Secretary of State Jesse White Wednesday, vowing to make things “easier and more efficient” for Illinoisans and businesses who use its services.

“Cutting through government red tape, in the name of making things easier and more efficient for businesses and individuals is what the Secretary of State office needs now more than ever,” said Brady, R-Bloomington. “As Secretary of State, my main focus will be improving the delivery of these services starting with partnering with the brightest innovators and technology experts that this state has to offer.”

Brady announced his candidacy at the Union League Club Wednesday morning and trotted out early support from House Republican Leader Jim Durkin as well as other colleagues from that chamber and from his time as McLean County Coroner.

The state rep, who has been in office since 2001, said the Secretary of State’s office touches more lives than any other constitutional office in Illinois but it’s become inefficient “with long lines, outdated technology and inefficient processes.”

If elected, Brady said he’d focus on developing and implementing new technology to help “streamline processes, reduce wait times, and at the same time, protect your personal data.” He also said he has “no intention” of using the office as a stepping stone to a higher position, something that other office holders have done previously.

Brady’s plans for the office include expanding the number of locations that offer schedule-ahead services and cross training employees in the office so employees can serve more people.

He also talked about pushing for the passage of legislation that would allow those seeking drivers’ licenses for the first time to complete the road test through a certified public or private school or private driver’s education facility.

Durkin called Brady a pragmatic problem solver who is “dedicated to his constituents like no other public servant I have ever served with in my career.”

“There’s no better person fit for this job than Dan Brady,” Durkin said. “Dan’s dedication in public service is strictly for his constituents in his district and it’s a perfect fit for this great noble statesman to take on this position.”

Also running for the office on the Republican ticket is William J. Kelly, a reporter and broadcaster who announced his bid for the office earlier this month.

The Democratic slate of candidates vying to succeed White includes former Illinois Treasurer Alexi Giannoulias, Chicago City Clerk Anna Valencia, Ald. Pat Dowell (3rd) and Ald. David Moore (17th).

As of Sept. 30, Brady had nearly $190,000 in his campaign coffers. By comparison, the top two Dem campaign coffers are owned by Giannoulias, who ended September with more than $3.4 million in the bank, and Valencia, who raised more than $707,000.

But Brady was undaunted by the financial challenges. The longtime state rep said he’s been the underdog — and underfunded — in every campaign he’s ever been in but “there’s no hill for a climber.”

He said if voters “want business as usual, if they want dominancy from this particular area, then that’s their choice,” Brady said, referring to the downtown location of the Union League Club where he announced his candidacy. “But I’m going to be offering something new, something fresh, something different. I hope they take me up on my candidacy.”

Brady signaled his plans to run for the office last week, filing updated campaign committee documents with the state’s board of elections that showed his intent to seek the office.

The Bloomington lawmaker said he’s been exploring a run for the office since legislators concluded their spring session, talking to, and meeting with, different stakeholders and traveling to different parts of the state.

Democrats have held onto the office since White took over in 1999.

Before that, Republicans held the post for much of the 1980s and ‘90s. The last GOP secretary of state was George Ryan, who served two terms before he was elected governor in 1998.

Ryan and Republican Jim Edgar both used the office as a springboard to successful campaigns for governor. Before Edgar, Democrat Alan Dixon used it to win a U.S. Senate seat.

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