Republican state Sen. Matt Murphy of Palatine -- a high-profile spokesman for the Illinois Republican agenda and nearly 10-year Senate veteran from the Northwest suburbs -- wrote in a letter Friday announcing his upcoming resignation that the job of state lawmaker is a difficult one.
"To my colleagues, past and present, we know better than most that the job is hard," Murphy wrote in the letter. "At times the weight of the responsibility that comes with it can be difficult to carry. But the truth is I have loved every second of serving with you and would do it all over again in a heartbeat."
His resignation effective Sept. 15 puts him in a large group of lawmakers who have departed or are departing in the first half of Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner's term.
Senate Republican Leader Christine Radogno of Lemont said Murphy has been "very strong in the role of a messenger" for the Senate GOP and will be missed. And she said his departure fits a trend of lawmakers who leave a Capitol life that can be hard on their families.
Earlier this year, former state Sen. Dan Duffy, a Lake Barrington Republican, left for a new job, as did Democratic former state Sen. Dan Kotowski of Park Ridge.
"He's thought about it for quite a while, yes," Radogno said of Murphy. "I've known he's been thinking about it. Like I said, it's been a deliberative process."
Murphy will take a job with Mac Strategies Group, a public affairs firm.
"I wish more people outside of the legislative process could see how well we get along personally, even when we disagree vehemently on policy, and also how many legislators really do care about our state and our constituents," the letter reads.
The surprise move ends a legislative career that began in 2007 and included a run for lieutenant governor.
Rauner said he was surprised by reports that Murphy, one of his top allies, is resigning.
Rauner said he hasn't talked to Murphy, who departs as one of Rauner's most vocal defenders in Springfield.
"I was surprised by it, disappointed. I think he's been a great legislator," Rauner said Friday as he opened the Illinois State Fair in Springfield.
Murphy would not have been up for election Nov. 8, and an early exit comes at a time when state lawmakers and Rauner just finished a historic budget war and could start another one days after the election.
Radogno said there won't need to be a special election to fill the seat, but she said local party officials should have an open process to do so.