Hailed as a rising star when he first ran for governor more than a decade ago, Bill Brady was selected Republican leader of the state Senate on Friday.
Brady, of Downstate Bloomington, was elected by a unanimous vote of his Republican colleagues to succeed outgoing Sen. Christine Radogno. Radogno announced her resignation on Thursday and will remain leader until Saturday, so Brady will have to wait for a floor vote to be formally named leader.
He said he plans to continue efforts led by Radogno to try to come up with a bipartisan solution to the state budget impasse.
“We know that Illinois needs a bipartisan solution,” Brady said. “We will continue that effort and building further on that effort, and we’re glad to hear that bipartisan effort is working in the House as well.”
A top deputy to Radogno, Brady ran for governor in 2006, 2010 and 2014. He lost the nomination in 2006 to Judy Baar Topinka, but won it four years later only to lose in the general election to Democrat Pat Quinn. Brady lost the nomination in 2014 to Bruce Rauner, who went on to be elected governor.
A conservative who gets along well with moderates in his party, Brady made his fortune building homes in the Bloomington area.
His easy victory on Friday was a stark contrast to his 2010 gubernatorial run.
He was not certified the winner until more than a month after the February primary. Brady and then-Sen. Kirk Dillard had been separated by a razor-thin margin in a six-candidate field, with neither ready to give up. Dillard finally conceded in March, when post election counts showed Brady up by 193 votes.
Brady and Dillard squared off again in 2014, but spent most of their time going after Rauner, who was the frontrunner.
Although Brady on Friday declared he works well with the governor, in a debate shortly before the March primary, Brady had especially harsh words, comparing Rauner to a certain disgraced Democratic governor.
“The more I hear Bruce Rauner speak, the more he sounds like Rod Blagojevich. That’s the way he [Blagojevich] came to Springfield. You have to bring people together. But you have to be decisive. You can’t be divisive,” Brady said.
“Mr. Rauner continues to berate the Legislature and the experience of the Legislature like Rod Blagojevich did. That didn’t solve our problems. We need a leader.”
Although he is as comfortable talking to conservatives in church basements as he is discussing tax policy in business board rooms, Brady chafes at being called “a country club Republican.”
“I think you have business Republicans and then you have social Republicans. And I would be both,” he once said.
When he ran for governor in 2006, Brady estimated his net worth at between $4 million and $8 million.