Illinois Senate Republican Leader Christine Radogno latest to resign

Senate Republican Leader Christine Radogno became the latest in a long list of moderate suburbanites to leave the Illinois legislature as she announced her resignation, effective Saturday.

Radogno, of Lemont, said Thursday she'd done the best she could and that her work with Democratic Senate President John Cullerton to end the state's two-year budget impasse was a highlight of her tenure.

That effort ultimately fell apart in May, with Democrats accusing Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner of pulling GOP senators' votes off the measure at the last minute.

Radogno said she decided to step down earlier this year but stayed to keep working on the budget deal dubbed the "grand bargain."

"It was my initial hope that my natural break point would be sending the grand bargain over to the House," Radogno told reporters, adding, "I'm not sure there's another natural break point coming soon."

The efforts by Cullerton and Radogno showed a rare glimmer of bipartisanship in the politically deadlocked state Capitol.

During a special session that began 10 days ago, Radogno has stayed largely quiet, with other caucus members representing her at news conferences.

No replacement had been announced, but Republican operatives suggest state Sens. Mike Connelly of Wheaton, Bill Brady of Bloomington and Karen McConnaughay of Geneva are likely candidates.

Democratic House Speaker Michael Madigan on Thursday called Radogno "a credit to the institution."

"The genius of the legislative process lies in the ability to compromise, and Chris Radogno understood that," Madigan said.

Radogno, 64, has served the 41st District since 1997 and was a LaGrange village trustee before that.

She said the sudden 2014 death of her youngest daughter Lisa, then a staffer for former U.S. Sen. Mark Kirk, served as a wake-up call, giving her the perspective that "nothing is forever." She had not planned to seek re-election when her 2-year term ended next year but moved her departure up to Saturday, the first day of the new state fiscal year and possibly the beginning of the third year without a state budget.

"I am looking forward to returning to private life and spending time with my family, especially my five grandchildren," she said.

Radogno's resignation follows those of state Democratic Rep. Elaine Nekritz of Northbrook, Republican state Sen. Matt Murphy of Palatine and Democratic state Sen. Dan Kotowski of Park Ridge, among others.

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