SPRINGFIELD, Ill. | State Sen. Bill Brady became the latest 2014 Illinois gubernatorial candidate to pick a lieutenant governor prospect, announcing Tuesday that a former suburban Chicago mayor who owns an alpaca farm will be his running mate.
Former Long Grove Village President Maria Rodriguez, who lost a 2010 challenge to former tea party Congressman Joe Walsh, said her experience as a small business owner and in local government qualifies her for statewide office.
Rodriguez, 54, said she's ready to do more for Illinois' financial problems, including inaction on the pension crisis, something that's driven Gov. Pat Quinn to withhold lawmakers' paychecks and legislative leaders to file suit.
"Instead of leading in this time of crisis, our current leadership resorts to gimmicks like cutting lawmakers' pay and suing one another in court," she told reporters in Chicago. "We do not need to re-elect another new set of dictators in Springfield."
Brady's choice follows the picks of two other GOP candidates: Illinois Treasurer Dan Rutherford of Chenoa selected Northbrook attorney Steve Kim, and state Sen. Kirk Dillard chose state Rep. Jil Tracy, of Quincy.
Republicans have vowed to better reach out to female and minority voters since devastating Election Day losses. All three gubernatorial candidates have said their candidates diversify the slate. Rutherford said he hoped Kim's immigrant background — Korean-American — would resonate with Asian voters. Dillard said Tracy's gender is a plus, something Brady echoed about Rodriguez, a white woman whose husband is part Cuban.
"It wasn't gender specific, though I think it's great that we bring diversity to the ticket in terms of gender, in terms of geography, in terms of different governmental experience we have," said Brady, a Bloomington lawmaker who was the 2010 GOP nominee for governor.
Rodriguez served two terms as president of the affluent suburb of roughly 8,000 people about 30 miles northwest of Chicago. Long Grove's median household income is more than $185,000 annually, compared with the state's average of roughly $56,000.
"Local government is a microcosm of what you see at the state level," she said. "I have some experience behind me."
Rodriguez and her husband have run the alpaca farm for 16 years. She's been involved in a conservative watchdog group and several Catholic women's groups.
Brady has earned a reputation as a staunch social conservative. Rodriguez said her views align with Brady's: She is anti-abortion and opposes same-sex marriage.
It's the first time candidates for governor will run with their lieutenant governor picks, a change spurred by the 2010 primary in which the past legal troubles of the Democratic nominee for lieutenant governor were revealed.
Two other candidates have yet to name their running mates: Republican venture capitalist Bruce Rauner and Quinn.
Brady's announcement came the same day former White House chief of staff Bill Daley announced his withdrawal from the governor's race.