Exodus of Illinois General Assembly Lawmakers

There’s a wave of lawmakers from the 100th General Assembly who are resigning or not running again – the majority of whom are Republicans.

As of Monday, there are six Republicans in the House and three Republicans in the Senate who are stepping down. Rep. Mike Fortner, R-West Chicago, was the latest to announce his decision.

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In the House, the following Republican representatives are leaving the General Assembly:

“It’s going to be 15 years when I step down,” said State Rep. Bob Pritchard. “It’s a self-imposed term limit. You shouldn’t be a career politician.”

The tone in Springfield also contributed to his decision. “It is not as enjoyable as when I first started because of the political tenor, the gridlock and the partisanship. I’m frustrated,” said Pritchard. 

“I’d also blame it on social media. The public is less forgiving than it once was,” he added. “They will see a tweet and then fire off a response and it’s mostly anonymous. People are relying on anything but the facts to respond. That wasn’t the case 15 years ago before we had social media.”

Of the Republicans not running for re-election, Reps. Fortner, Hays and Mitchell voted to override Gov. Bruce Rauner’s budget veto. In all, 10 Republicans bucked the governor.

Days before Illinois finally passed a budget after more than two years of gridlock, Senate Minority Leader Christine Radogno (R-Lemont) resigned.

As for Democrats, two are not seeking re-election in the House and another three are leaving to run for other offices. They are: 

  • Rep. Scott Drury of Highwood who represents the 58th District; gubernatorial candidate
  • Rep. Laura Fine of Glenview who represents the 17th District; Illinois Senate candidate seeking Sen. Daniel Biss’ seat
  • Assistant Majority Leader Rep. Elaine Nekritz of Northbrook who represents the 57th District
  • Rep. Cynthia Soto of Chicago who represents the 4th District; Water Reclamation District candidate

“I feel like I have done as much as I know how to do and it’s time for some fresh, energetic leadership, said State Rep. Elaine Nekritz. “It’s somebody else’s turn.”

Nekritz, like Pritchard, lists a host of reasons for stepping down, including the lack of progress in Springfield. “I, like many of my colleagues, have frustration with the gridlock,” said Nekritz. “But it’s not the main part of my decision.

“There are probably eight reasons why I’m leaving. I look around at the new members tackling new things and I don’t have that same level of enthusiasm,” Nekritz added. “I always said when my enthusiasm wanes I’ll know it’s time to go.”

State Rep. Emily McAsey, D-Lockport, resigned her 85th District seat on June 1.

Sen. Daniel Biss, D-Skokie, is running for governor so he won't seek re-election for his seat.

Both Nekritz and Pritchard aren’t ruling out more departures in the near future.

Related stories:

When Will Schools See State Cash? Wait and See

Aug. 2: Fresh off of a two-year budget crisis rooted in partisan tensions, Illinois is careening toward a new one – and this time, schoolchildren are left in the wake.

State Budget Passes. Now What?

July 10: The new state budget includes significant cuts and a higher income tax. So now what? We address some lingering questions about the fiscal health of the state—and the city.

Radogno Resigns, Democrats Introduce Tax Plan

June 29: Two days before a Springfield special legislative session is scheduled to end, Illinois Senate Minority Leader Christine Radogno announced she will resign Saturday.

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