State Sen. Bill Brady on Unrest, COVID-19, Mail-In Voting and RNC

The Republican Party’s already unconventional convention has broken even more norms. On Tuesday night, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo became the first top U.S. diplomat in modern history to participate in a political convention. And President Donald Trump hosted a naturalization ceremony, and announced a presidential pardon.

The convention is unfolding amid civil unrest in Kenosha following the police shooting of Jacob Blake, a 29-year-old Black man who is now paralyzed, according to the family’s attorney.

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“The African American community, and many communities, have felt disenfranchised from the system,” Illinois Senate Republican Leader Bill Brady said Wednesday on “Chicago Tonight.” “But let’s make no mistake: we are a country that’s foundation, that’s root is based on law and order. There are ways to handle injustices in this country and looting, rioting, destroying people’s property is not one of them.”

During the first two nights of the convention, Republicans sought to make the case for President Donald Trump’s effective handling of the COVID-19 crisis. Meanwhile, virus-related deaths are nearing 180,000 in the U.S. and the president has repeatedly downplayed the spread of the virus and suggested officials look at disinfectant and sunlight as potential treatments.

“There’s no playbook for how to handle this,” said Brady, whose 44th District includes all or parts of Logan, McLean, Menard, Sangamon and Tazewell counties. “I think the president has put his heart and soul into it. I think he’s trying to balance the economic interest of people, but putting first the health care interest of people in America.”

Brady said Trump grew a strong economy before the pandemic and continues to be focused on that. Other public officials are focused entirely on health care, without realizing, Brady said, “that there’s an economic health care.”

While Trump has been criticized for making racist comments, the Republican National Convention has highlighted his non-white supporters, including Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron who responded on Tuesday to comments Joe Biden made regarding Black voters.

“Mr. Vice President, look at me. I am Black,” Cameron said. “We are not all the same, sir. I am not in chains. My mind is my own, and you can’t tell me how to vote because of the color of my skin.”

Brady called the Republican Party the party of opportunity.  

“We are the party of Lincoln, we are the party that wants to create opportunity for all Americans, economic opportunity,” Brady said. “The Democrats have far too long tried to, I think, remove economic opportunity from all Americans.”

Mail-in voting

Trump has repeatedly insisted without evidence that allowing large-scale mail-in voting will lead to fraud and undermine the credibility of the election. Brady said he too is worried about voter fraud.

“We’ve known and suspected for years election fraud in the state,” Brady said. “We believe that a system of protecting every individual’s vote is important because if you allow fraud to occur, you diminish the value of legitimate votes.”

Election experts have said voter fraud is rare, including with mail-in voting. 

“We’ve seen evidence of people voting for other people, in our opinion, particularly in the Chicagoland area and the Metro East area for decades,” Brady said. 

However, Brady said there haven’t been any prosecutions or investigations into it.

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