Democrat Alexi Giannoulias and Republican Dan Brady each won their respective primary election races on Tuesday locking up a November matchup to replace longtime Illinois Secretary of State Jessie White, who is retiring.
Giannoulias, a former state treasurer, had 396,711 votes or 52.8% to Chicago City Clerk Anna Valencia’s 258,108 votes or 34.4%, with 70.9% of the votes counted. Chicago Ald. David Moore, meanwhile, had 66,842 votes or 8.9% and Sidney Moore had 29,199 votes or 3.9% of the total votes counted.
Brady, a longtime state representative and assistant minority leader from Bloomington, had 482,598 votes or 76.3% to John Milhiser’s 149,577 votes or 23.7%, with 67.2% of the votes counted. Brady, 60, has been leading in recent polls.
“While I am disappointed I will not have the chance to serve Illinois residents as our next Secretary of State, I want to congratulate Alexi Giannoulias on his victory tonight,” Valencia said. “It’s critically important that Democrats hold this office in November, and I will do whatever I can to help ensure that happens.”
The race for Illinois Secretary of State has been highly sought after this election because outgoing incumbent Democrat Jesse White has held onto the seat for nearly a quarter century. As White retires, Republicans are hoping to get a shot at winning a statewide constitutional office this fall.
The office administers motor vehicle services – drivers licenses and vehicle registrations, among other things. The Illinois secretary of state also is the state librarian, which provides services to public libraries throughout the state. It also manages the state archives, serves as the state’s official record keeper, administers lobbying laws and operates its own police force.
Milhiser, a 52-year-old former state and federal prosecutor from Springfield, was part of a “slate” of candidates backed by billionaire businessman Ken Griffin, who also poured millions of campaign contributions into Aurora Mayor Richard Irvin’s failed bid for the Republican nomination for governor.
Brady is a funeral director and a partner in the funeral home firm Kibler-Brady-Ruestman. He served as McLean County coroner from 1992 until he was elected to the Illinois House in 2000.
“I believe my background certainly gives me a distinct advantage of experience when it comes to county government where I served as county coroner and worked with the secretary of state’s office in particular on organ tissue donation issues,” Brady said.
If elected, Brady said he would like to overhaul and upgrade technology in the office to reduce wait times in the driver services area and he would like to see all driver facilities in the state fully staffed.
Milhiser served as U.S. Attorney for the Central District of Illinois from 2018 to 2021. Before that, he was the Sangamon County state’s attorney for 16 years. Today, he teaches high school government, history and English at an adult education center in Springfield.
“As Secretary of State, you have to wear many different hats and operate in many different lanes, which I have throughout my career,” he said. “And not only have I prosecuted cases in state court … but I also have executive experience managing a state court prosecutor’s office as the Sangamon County state’s attorney, working with law enforcement, working with community groups, setting up partnerships to run that office, working with the county board, working with a budget, hiring and firing people. So that executive experience is key.”
He, too, said he wants to upgrade technology in the office and improve its online services. He also said he wants to improve adult literacy services that are funded with grants from the state library to local public libraries.
Capitol News Illinois contributed to this report.