* Daily Herald…
Calling Springfield a place where “you’re not supposed to think for yourself,” David Harris, a nearly 20-year veteran of the Illinois House, said Tuesday evening he won’t seek re-election in 2018.
“It has to do with the ability to be effective,” Harris, of Arlington Heights, told the Daily Herald. That ability, he said, is “somewhat diminished” by a deep partisan divide in state government that led to a multiyear budget standoff. The impasse was resolved in July only after a number of Republicans, including Harris, broke ranks with GOP Gov. Bruce Rauner to approve a 32 percent income tax increase. […]
That vote made Harris a target by several conservative groups opposed to the tax increase, including the Taxpayers United of America, which distributed “wanted” fliers for “crimes against taxpayers” with Harris’ picture on them at locations across the 53rd District, including Randhurst Village mall in Mount Prospect and Lake Arlington in Arlington Heights. Since then, Republican Katie Miller of Mount Prospect has emerged as a primary opponent backed by radio host and former candidate for governor Dan Proft, who runs a conservative political action committee.
“The Illinois Republican Party, we’re fighting an internal battle,” Harris said Tuesday, adding he is personally opposed to “spending $400,000 or $500,000 to get through a divisive primary.”
* And here’s his press release…
State Representative David Harris (R-Arlington Heights) announced today that he will not be a candidate for re-election next year as State Representative from District 53.
“My service in the Illinois House of Representatives has been one of the highlights of my life.” said Harris, “I will always value having worked with my distinguished colleagues on both sides of the aisle. But it is now time to look forward to the next fulfilling chapter in life.
“During my service in the House, I have served as the Republican Spokesman on the House Revenue & Finance Committee and the House General Services Appropriations Committee. I have developed a deserved reputation as one who knows the revenue and spending numbers well and understands the details of our State’s budget.”
Recognizing that the tenor of discussion in politics has become more personal and partisan, Harris stated, “I believe my constituents have been well served by my ability to work in a bi-partisan manner with my Democratic colleagues. I never forsake the Republican principles that I have held all my life. At the same time good governance requires reasonableness and cooperation in order to achieve public policies that are in the best interests of all the citizens of our great State. It is becoming harder and harder to be effective in Springfield because of the political bitterness, and that is frustrating for me.”
“My colleagues know me as a conservative legislator,” said Harris. “My voting record reflects that, and that is helpful when negotiating on issues. My conservatism can mix with doses of realistic practicality to fashion legislation that reigns in liberal policies and helps make the wheels of government turn. The Founding Fathers of our country understood the need for compromise when necessary.”
Harris’s service in the House has been recognized by groups as diverse as the Illinois Chamber of Commerce that recognized him with its 2015-2016 “Champion of Free Enterprise” Award and the Community Renewal Society that recently gave him its “Public Servant Lighthouse Award.”
Harris added, “Politics at both the state and federal levels has become extremely divisive, and that does not serve citizens well. We should strive to lessen the partisanship that is so evident and strive to raise the level of public debate. In Illinois there are important issues to address and simply engaging in personal attacks on our political opponents does not engender positive engagement on issues. We can debate public policies without ad hominem attacks.”
“Within the Republican Party, there are sharp divisions which I think will hurt the Party in the long run,” Harris continued. “There seems to be no willingness to consider various points of view. It seems that one has to adhere to some set of dictates coming from on high or one does not belong in the Party. Our Republican Party should be one of inclusion, not one of exclusion. If we hope to build our electoral chances for success in the future, we need to broaden the base, not make it more narrow. That does not mean forsaking principles, it means listening and responding to citizens in a principled way.”
“I have been extremely fortunate in my career,” said Harris. “I have had the great opportunity to give public service in several ways. My military service is a source of much pride, since I share the family tradition of wearing the uniform of our country with my father, brother and son, all of whom served. And it has been a genuine honor to serve the citizens of this area in the Illinois House of Representatives.”
Harris had served in the Illinois House in the 1980s and early 1990s. When he left the House in 1993, he took the position as Senior Vice President of Government Relations for the Illinois Hospital Association. He was called back to State government by the Governor in 1999 and appointed as The Adjutant General (Commanding General) of the Illinois National Guard. Harris initially entered military service in 1970; he had served for 20 years in the Illinois Army National Guard and risen to the rank of Colonel when he was selected to be The Adjutant General. He retired from military service after 33 years with the rank of Major General.
Harris has been involved with Republican politics at many levels all his life. He cut his political teeth with the Reagan campaign in 1976; he then became a member of the White House Advance Team during the Reagan Presidency, during which time he traveled nationally and internationally with the President and his staff.
Harris has deep roots in the district he represents. He was raised in Mount Prospect, attending Lincoln School and then Saint Viator High School. He and his wife have been residents of Arlington Heights for nearly 40 years; their two grown sons attended Saint Viator, too. The family is a member of Our Lady of the Wayside parish.
Harris says that he will look for opportunities to continue to give public service that take advantage of his years of experience.
* Dan Proft had recruited a candidate to run against Harris in the primary. His react…
And that makes 9 of the 15 that have walked rather than face a primary challenge. Shouldn’t go unnoticed since Durkin’s philosophy is to protect incumbents regardless of behavior. The existence of our team is an accountability mechanism–and the only one in the ILGOP.