Another Republican has added his name to the growing rank of Republican lawmakers who are resigning or retiring after a toxic legislative session punctuated by Governor Bruce Rauner’s blockage of a budget plan for more than two years over his reform agenda.
State Rep. David Harris, who announced his retirement, was one of the Republicans who voted for a bipartisan budget compromise. Governor Rauner vetoed the bill, which legislators then overrode.
“The fact that we now have a budget, I think, is a good thing,” Harris said. “It prevented the state from going to the status of junk bonds, which would have been disastrous.”
Republican lawmakers have been retiring in mass after Rauner and his team have threatened moderate members of their party.
Shortly after a number of Republicans voted to override the Governor’s veto of the budget package, Rauner’s Republican Party chairman pulled out his knives, alluding to the fact that the party could oppose those lawmakers in their upcoming primary elections.
Half of the House Republicans who voted to override Rauner’s veto are not seeking re-election.
The situation is further complicated by Rauner’s signal to move his agenda to the far right, by replacing more than twenty high level staffers in the Rauner Administration, many from the Illinois Policy Institute (IPI), a hardline, right-wing think tank, and its sister organization, Liberty Principles PAC.
Harris said he was worried about the divisions that Governor Rauner has created within the Republican Party.
“We’re just fighting among ourselves,” he said. “I don’t see how that makes us stronger. I don’t see how that builds our base. I don’t see how that allows us to enact policies that work for the benefit of all. It narrows the base, in my mind.”