Giannoulias, Brady Set the Stage for Heated Battle in Secretary of State's Race

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For the first time in nearly 25 years, Illinois will have a new secretary of state this winter, and Democrat Alexi Giannoulias and Republican Dan Brady are hoping that their messages find receptive audiences in what will be a keenly-watched race.

Giannoulias, the former Illinois treasurer who lost in his bid to become a U.S. senator in 2010, says that he has used the intervening years to refocus and reset his priorities in the political sphere.

“It did turn me off (to politics),” he said. “There’s a lot of components that make me sick to my stomach, but I do believe in public service.”

Giannoulias defeated Chicago City Clerk Anna Valencia in the Democratic primary earlier this year, and will face another tough battle against Brady, who defeated former U.S. Attorney John Milhiser in the Republican primary.

“Primaries, whether for Republicans or Democrats, are always very difficult,” he said.

Brady, a state representative from Bloomington, has run on a platform emphasizing technological upgrades within the Secretary of State’s Office, and says he will address other areas where financial savings and improved services can go hand-in-hand.

“We have to look at somewhere around $10.5 million that we spend on leasing 96 driver’s services facilities,” he said. “How can we improve upon that?”

Giannoulias has also promised to use his power as secretary of state to find ways to leverage technology to help citizens throughout the state.

“(Voters ask) ‘how can you make sure government works better, easier and quicker for me?’” he said.

As of Monday, Giannoulias currently as $1.5 million on-hand in his campaign warchest, while Brady has $123,000.

Still, Brady says that he is optimistic after winning as an early underdog in the Republican primary.

“Yes, money is important, very important, but it’s not everything, and we’ve seen across this state and this country that the underdog can become the ‘wonderdog’ and pull it out,” he said.

Support at the party level is something new to the Giannoulias campaign, as Gov. J.B. Pritzker endorsed Valencia in the primary.

Still, the former treasurer says that he has the governor’s unconditional support in November.

“I’ve spoken to the governor, and he’s let it be known to me that this race is incredibly important to him,” he said. “He understands the importance of voting rights and modernization, and he has pledged his support.”

Brady was less emphatic about his connections to State Sen. Darren Bailey, who has already courted controversy with his comments comparing abortion to the Holocaust.

When asked if he supported Bailey, he didn’t answer directly.

“Well, Darren Bailey is running for governor on the Republican ticket, and I’m a Republican,” he said.

 Both candidates are expected to appear at the Illinois State Fair this week, with Governor’s Day and Republican Day set to take place on Wednesday and Thursday, respectively.

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