State Rep. Dan Brady said the unusually high number of veto overrides this fall was the result of lobbying by other elected officials pushing the legislation, not necessarily an indication of Gov. Bruce Rauner’s declining power among his fellow Republicans.
Brady, a Bloomington Republican and a House GOP leader, supported veto overrides on two bills—one related to transparency on state finances, the other on student loans. Brady said he changed his mind on those bills only after learning more about them from their chief supporters, Comptroller Susana Mendoza and Attorney General Lisa Madigan.
Rauner saw 15 of his 39 vetoes overridden by lawmakers. Prior to this year, Rauner had been override just once. Brady said the House GOP caucus has supported Rauner on many—but not all—fronts, noting that the direct lobbying was the real difference-maker.
“I think that the longer you’re in a position such as governor, and you have to make decisions and you take action, there are going to be those who don’t like the action you took. That plays a big part of it. Your popularity begins to wear off, in terms of making those kinds of decisions,” he said.
The so-called Debt Transparency Act would make state agencies file monthly reports on how much money they owe. Currently they only have to do that annually, leaving the comptroller to estimate the rest of the time. Rauner vetoed it. He said he’s all for transparency, but this legislation would let the comptroller “micromanage” his agencies.
Brady voted against the bill initially but was part of the unanimous veto override in October. He said he didn’t hear much from constituents on the bill, but he did hear from Mendoza.
Brady also changed his mind on a bill creating a new set of protections for people with student loan debt. Student loan servicers will have to give borrowers a full range of repayment options and an honest accounting of the cost of each choice. Servicers will have to get licensed by the state, and borrowers will have access to a new ombudsman's office if they have complaints.
Brady was one of 32 Republicans in the House who joined Democrats in overriding the governor’s veto of the bill. Brady said he was swayed after seeing the federal government take a diminished role in student loan oversight and by other new information provided by supporters.
“Looking at that, listening to some other input, caused me to think differently about it,” Brady said. “We want to do what we can for students and their protection and give them the least amount of debt when they come out of a university.”
Meanwhile, Brady is expected to face a contested election—maybe two of them—in 2018.
Republican David Paul Blumenshine has announced plans to run against Brady in the March primary. Democrat Ben Webb is planning to challenge him in the general election in November.
“I respect the elective process. Anybody who knows me knows how hard I work. If there are others who think they can do better, they can step up to the plate. The reality is, I have a proven record of public service to this constituency and to the state,” Brady said.
Brady has not faced a primary challenge since winning his seat in 2000. That year, he narrowly won a three-way primary by just 47 votes over Republicans Ed Brady and Joseph "Skip" Crawford. Dan Brady's last general election opponent was in 2006, when he defeated Green Party candidate Phil Huckelberry with 80 percent of the vote.
“For those who want to use spin words and those who want to talk about their different take on things in Springfield, that’s great. I look forward to the process. I’ve had the privilege to serve. I’ve had the ability to beat Republicans, Democrats, Green Party, and so I love a challenge,” he said.
The 105th House District includes parts of Bloomington-Normal. It stretches northeast and includes Lexington, Towanda, Hudson, and other communities.
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