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State Senate GOP Leader Will Resign Saturday

Brian Mackey / NPR Illinois

Illinois Senate Republican Leader Christine Radogno is stepping down, effective Saturday. That’s the first day of the new Illinois budget year -- which would be the third without a real budget unless she and other legislative leaders cut a deal.

Radogno was behind the secret bipartisan attempt at compromise that became known as the “grand bargain.” She says she’d hoped to be able to resign after getting it passed.

“I will say that I feel strongly that the governor has the right agenda, but it’s not that easy getting there," Radogno said Thursday. "We need fundamental change in this building, but we need to compromise in order to get there.”

Gov. Bruce Rauner worked to block the grand bargain, saying that it didn’t go far enough in meeting his economic and political agenda. Radogno says he has nothing to do with her decision to leave. Rather, she says she’s looking forward to traveling with her husband, and spending more time with her kids and five grandchildren.

Radogno is the only woman ever to head a legislative caucus in the Illinois House or Senate. 

“I would be happy to see another woman, and I’m sure at some point you will — maybe my successor will be, I have no idea," Radogno said. "To me though, it’s an asterisk in my career. It’s one that I’m proud of, but it’s not one that defines me.”

In a caucus Friday, Republican state senators chose Bloomington Sen. Bill Brady, a three-time candidate for governor, as the new minority leader.

Brian Mackey formerly reported on state government and politics for NPR Illinois and a dozen other public radio stations across the state. Before that, he was A&E editor at The State Journal-Register and Statehouse bureau chief for the Chicago Daily Law Bulletin.