Republicans see opening in secretary of state race

Republicans see opening in secretary of state race

Capitol News Illinois
[email protected]

SPRINGFIELD – For the first time in nearly a quarter century, there is an open race for the office of Illinois secretary of state as incumbent Democrat Jesse White prepares to retire, and Republicans hope that will give them an opportunity to pick up a statewide elected office.

It’s often said that more people interact with the secretary of state’s office than any other department in state government, except perhaps the Department of Revenue.

The office is primarily known for administering motor vehicle services – drivers licenses and vehicle registrations – but it reaches far beyond that. The Illinois secretary of state is also the state librarian, which provides services to public libraries throughout the state. It is also manages the state archives, serves as the state’s official recordkeeper, administers lobbying laws and operates its own police force.

John Milhiser, a former state and federal prosecutor from Springfield, and Dan Brady, a longtime state representative and assistant minority leader from Bloomington, are vying in the upcoming June 28 primary for the chance to carry the GOP banner into the general election.

Milhiser, 52, is part of a “slate” of candidates endorsed by billionaire businessman Ken Griffin. But Brady, 60, has been leading in recent polls, although a large block of likely GOP voters remained undecided.

Both candidates have made the fight against corruption a major theme in their campaigns. But even though the last major corruption scandal in the secretary of state’s office happened during the last Republican administration, they argue that it’s relevant throughout Illinois politics.

“Yeah, Democrats don’t have a monopoly on corruption in Illinois,” Milhiser said in a phone interview. “And when you look at the history of corruption in the secretary of state’s office, it is Republicans, it is Democrats. But unfortunately, you know, that corruption is in state government.”

Brady agreed, saying “unfortunately, anything corrupt is labeled as Springfield. Not, per se, the secretary of state’s office, but the perception is across government itself.”

He said as secretary of state he would like to have a policy of open doors and “sunshine on everything.”

Brady is a funeral director by profession and a partner in the funeral home firm Kibler-Brady-Ruestman. He served as McLean County coroner from 1992 until he was elected to the Illinois House in 2000.

“I believe my background certainly gives me a distinct advantage of experience when it comes to county government where I served as county coroner and worked with the secretary of state’s office in particular on organ tissue donation issues,” Brady said.

If elected, Brady said he would like to overhaul and upgrade technology in the office to reduce wait times in the driver services area and he would like to see all driver facilities in the state fully staffed.

Milhiser served as U.S. Attorney for the Central District of Illinois from 2018 to 2021. Before that, he was the Sangamon County state’s attorney for 16 years. Today, he teaches high school government, history and English at an adult education center in Springfield.

“As Secretary of State, you have to wear many different hats and operate in many different lanes, which I have throughout my career,” he said. “And not only have I prosecuted cases in state court … but I also have executive experience managing a state court prosecutor’s office as the Sangamon County state’s attorney, working with law enforcement, working with community groups, setting up partnerships to run that office, working with the county board, working with a budget, hiring and firing people. So that executive experience is key.”

He, too, said he wants to upgrade technology in the office and improve its online services. He also said he wants to improve adult literacy services that are funded with grants from the state library to local public libraries.

One of the most contentious issues facing the state, which is certain to carry over to the next administration, concerns electric vehicle manufacturers and the question of whether they should be allowed to sell new vehicles directly to consumers.

Under Illinois law, new motor vehicles can only be sold through franchised dealers, and vehicle manufacturers are prohibited from operating such a dealership. In recent years, however, electric vehicle manufacturers like Tesla, Rivian and Lucid have begun selling their vehicles directly to consumers over the internet.

Last year, the Illinois Automobile Dealers Association filed a lawsuit seeking to enforce that law and prevent manufacturers from selling directly to consumers. That case is still pending in Cook County Circuit Court.

Asked whether he thinks the statutes need to be updated, or if the manufacturers should change their business model, Milhiser said he thinks it’s an unsettled question.

“I will tell you, I’ve had conversations with the Automobile Dealers Association and that is definitely something that we need to continue to talk about. And one big reason is, we need to make sure we protect the consumers. So if you have these entities coming in that don’t have the service and they don’t have the support, we need to make sure that the consumers are protected. And that’s a conversation we for sure need to have moving forward.”

Brady, meanwhile, said he will wait to see how the court rules in the case, but that he thinks the law is being applied unfairly.

“I believe that there needs to be a level playing field for our existing automobile dealers that are here in this state,” he said. “The law needs to be applied evenly and fairly.”

He said if legislation needs to be amended, all stakeholders should be at the table.

“I don’t believe from the knowledge of what I have of what was done and how … that law was applied was fair when it comes to our existing Automobile Dealers Association,” he said. “So it’s seems to me that it was interpreted and applied in an unfair manner.”

Capitol News Illinois is a nonprofit, nonpartisan news service covering state government that is distributed to more than 400 newspapers statewide. It is funded primarily by the Illinois Press Foundation and the Robert R. McCormick Foundation.

Leave a Comment

Local News

Anthony Morales, 7, of Worth, shows off his pumpkin at last year's Worth Fall Fest at Gale Moore Park, 109th and Nordica, Worth. (File photo)

Activities for autumn are offered in Worth

By Joe Boyle Worth officials welcomed autumn by reminding residents that a variety of activities will be taking place in the village beginning this week. Village Clerk Bonnie Price said that Tag Days sponsored by the Knights of Columbus from Our Lady of the Ridge Parish in Chicago Ridge will take place on Friday, Sept.…

Palos Heights Alderman Jack Clifford argues with resident Dan Nicholson during Tuesday's meeting. (Photos by Jeff Vorva)

Sparks fly during Palos Heights parking lot debate

By Jeff Vorva The City of Palos Heights is one step away from voting on a controversial new parking lot and the issue drew some fireworks Tuesday night. Nine people spoke on the topic during a 45-minute public comment session, but it was resident Dan Nicholson who pushed the buttons of Aldermen Jack Clifford and…

An American flag is draped in front of the McCook fire station during 9-11 ceremonies. (Photo by Carol McGowan)

McCook hosts celebration of heroes to honor sacrifices of September 11

By Carol McGowan Despite the drenching rain on Sunday, more than 200 people gathered for the annual Celebration of Heroes event at the McCook Fire Department to honor the people who died in the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001. Five villages took part in Sunday’s event: McCook, Riverside, Forest View, Lyons, and Willow Springs.…

Bob Sprinkle (left) swears in Police Chief Garry McCarthy. (Photo by Carol McGowan)

McCarthy named permanent police chief in Willow Springs

By Carol McGowan Former Chicago Police Supt. Garry McCarthy was sworn in last week as the new permanent police chief in Willow Springs. McCarthy, who has been serving as acting police chief since April, was sworn in by Bob Sprinkle, longtime resident and chairman of the Willow Springs Police Commission. He served as Chicago’s top…

justice sign

Justice raises $5,000 for holiday baskets

By Carol McGowan Justice Trustee Jeff Allen said the village raised almost $5 ,000 at the annual car show in August, which will go towards the annual holiday baskets and gift cards program for less fortunate residents. Allen said the car show brought in just over $4,919. Otherwise, it was business as usual at the…

Lanie Reilly, 6, a first-grader at Pleasantdale Elementary School, was Countryside mayor for a day on Sept. 14. She started the city council meeting with Mayor Sean McDermott. Her mother, Jessica, said Lanie “checked out the whole building.” Lanie says she wants to be mayor when she grows up. (Photo by Steve Metsch)

Countryside to renovate baseball field at City Park

By Steve Metsch Youth baseball players in Countryside will have an improved ball field to play on in City Park next year. The city council at its Sept. 14 meeting unanimously approved paying Sportfields Inc., of Alsip, $29,800 to do the renovation work. Ald. Mark Benson (3rd) told the council the work “is long overdue…

Grace Hou, Secretary of the Illinois Department of Human Services, addressed the Countryside City Council on Sept. 14 about asylum seekers. (Photo by Steve Metsch)

Countryside hosts 50 asylum seekers from Venezuela

By Steve Metsch The city of Countryside has warmly welcomed 50 refugees from Venezuela who are seeking asylum in the United States, officials said at the latest city council meeting. “These are individuals going through the process,” Mayor Sean McDermott said. “They are legally in the United States and they are seeking asylum, which a…


Condors prevail on gridiron

Members of the Curie High School girls’ flag football team share a moment of triumph, moments after they won neighborhood bragging rights over Solorio Academy with a 22-8 victory last week. The Condors were paced by game MVP Destiny Miranda and QB Lexi Urzula. – Supplied photo

dvn lyons logo

Lyons buys property near old quarry

By Steve Metsch The village of Lyons has agreed to pay $2,770,416 for approximately 8.56 acres just south of the former quarry on Ogden Avenue. “This is something we talked about at previous board meetings. It’s finally coming to fruition,” Mayor Christopher Getty said at the Aug. 16 village board meeting. Dubbed the Lyons South…

Members of Argo High School's Track Team pose for a picture with Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle at Fall Fest. (Photo by Carol McGowan)

Lyons Township Democrats hold annual Fall Fest

By Carol McGowan The Democratic Park of Lyons Township held its annual Fall Fest last Saturday. The party took place outside of the Township Democratic Headquarters at 63rd Street and Archer Road in Summit. Lyons Township Supervisor Christopher Getty was happy with the turnout. “The event was an overwhelming success. We had approximately 300 people…


DVN JCs Restoration House Ad

Football: Previously winless Sandburg takes down defending champ Lockport

By Randy Whalen Correspondent A season ago, Sandburg turned its season around after a big loss to Lockport. This year, the Eagles hope their season has turned around after a big win over the Porters. Sandburg was winless coming into the SouthWest Suburban Blue matchup against the defending Class 8A state champions, but pummeled the…

Martin Hopkins, a 2009 St. Rita graduate, will lead the school's football program beginning next season. Supplied photo

Area sports roundup: No drama here, St. Rita grad Hopkins named Mustangs football coach

By Jeff Vorva Staff writer There will be no drama waiting to see who the will coach St. Rita’s football team in 2023. Even though there are four weeks to go in the 2022 regular season, the school last week named Martin Hopkins the successor to Todd Kuska. Kuska, in his 25th season as the…


Football: Evergreen Park edges Reavis in SSC Red

By Steve Millar Correspondent The back-and-forth battle waged against Reavis in Week 5 was the kind of game for which Evergreen Park prepares. It provided the Mustangs a chance to test how they would respond in an intense situation. They passed the test. “Resilience was the key,” Evergreen Park coach Jerry Verde said after the…

Lyons’ James Georgelos goes in for a tackle of York’s Brian Filosa. Photo by Steve Metsch

Football: York hands Lyons first loss of season

By Steve Metsch Correspondent Lyons’ bid for a fifth win and to essentially clinch a playoff spot was put on hold by York and junior running back Jake Melion. Melion, thrust into the RB1 role because of an injury to starter Kelly Watson, ran for three touchdowns in a 27-14 win for the Dukes. Lions…

regional top school palos heights

Palos 118’s West Elementary named National Blue Ribbon School

Palos West Elementary School in Palos Consolidated School District 118 has been named a National Blue Ribbon School award winner by the U.S. Department of Education. U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona made the announcement on September 16. “This is a moment of extreme pride for us here in District 118,” said Supt. Dr. Anthony…

regional ppwc

Palos Park Woman’s Club turns 120

The Palos Park Woman’s Club officially turned 120 years old on August 21, 2022. A celebration was held on that day at the Palos Park Rec Center with approximately 100 people in attendance including members, local dignitaries, family and friends. The Village of Palos Park recently proclaimed August 21 through September 17 as Palos Park…

Northwestern College Summer Quarter Nursing graduates hold lanterns during their Pinning Ceremony, symbolizing the passing of the flame from the founder of professional nursing, Florence Nightingale. (Supplied photo)

Northwestern College holds summer pinning ceremony

Northwestern College’s Violet L. Schumacher School of Nursing held a Pinning Ceremony for its Summer Quarter Nursing graduates on September 8. The ceremony was conducted at the Oak Lawn Public Library’s lower-level conference room, a new location following the college’s recent move from Bridgeview to Oak Lawn. The traditional ceremony marks the formal induction of…

dvn community calendar

Join the Polish American Cultural Club Meetings of the Polish American Cultural Club are held on the first Thursday of each month at 7 p.m. at American Legion Post 1941, 900 S. La Grange Road, La Grange. Dues are $20 per year for individual membership and $35 for a family membership. The mission of our…

MVCC Halloween 5k 2015

9th annual Halloween run at Moraine Valley

Grab a costume, dress up the kids and head to the ninth annual Halloween 5K run/walk and Kid’s Dash on Saturday, Oct. 29, 9 a.m., at Moraine Valley Community College, 9000 W. College Parkway, Palos Hills. Participants can walk or run the officially timed 5K (3.1 mile) path throughout campus. The Kid’s Dash will start…

Stagg football players get ready to take on Lincoln-Way West on Friday night. Photo by Jeff Vorva

Pigskin Wrap: Lincoln-Way West blanks Stagg as Chargers go 0-for-Lincoln-Way

By Jeff Vorva Staff Writer Stagg had just been beaten 36-0 by Lincoln-Way West in a SouthWest Suburban Red matchup in Palos Hills. It was the third consecutive game against a Lincoln-Way team. It was the third consecutive loss. And in this unholy trinity of games, the Chargers were outscored 126-3. Coach Colt Nero is…

DVN Damar Kaminski Funeral Home House Ad
Regional CC Asphalt House Ad