State Sen. Bill Brady made his first major appearance Saturday night since becoming the GOP's candidate for governor.
After a month of political wrangling, Brady, R-Bloomington, was named the Republican challenger in the Nov. 2 election. Brady emerged as the nominee when the State Board of Elections declared him the official winner on Friday by a mere 193 votes.
Brady, along with other GOP candidates, spoke to a crowd of nearly 300 at the 55th annual Lincoln Day Dinner. The crowd included elected officials from across the state as well as some from Madison, Macoupin, Montgomery and St. Clair counties.
Brady said he worked hard on his primary campaign and would continue the momentum.
"We built a great grassroots organization," Brady said.
He said his focus will be on two objectives - bringing jobs to Illinois and ending the machine culture of corruption and politics.
"People are fed up," he said.
He said the state needs to balance its budget but doesn't need to do so at taxpayers' expense.
"Raising the income tax by 50 percent will not work," he said. "Gov. Pat Quinn is a failure when it comes to fiscal management."
Brady said the state needs to be more welcoming to businesses. He said he intends to create a more positive business climate, which in turn will create jobs and bring income back to the state.
He said other areas of focus are public safety, transportation, health care and education.
"If we do these things right and efficiently, the private sector jobs will begin to flourish," he said.
Brady asked the crowd if they wanted to continue with Chicago-style machine politics. He said the governor's office should be more representative of the state, not just Chicago.
"Gov. Quinn cares more about politics than policy," he said.
Brady said he is "thrilled and excited" about having Edwardsville's Jason Plummer running for lieutenant governor.
"He's one of your own," Brady said.
He said Plummer is from outside the machine's geographical boundary of Cook County and from a younger generation.
Brady said the state is "rich in assets."
"Illinois is not bankrupt," he said. "It's rich in opportunity. We need to make the state a place we want to live and work again."
Brady said he knows the election will be tough, but he will remain focused on bringing and retaining jobs and reforming state politics.
Other Republican candidates to speak included state treasurer candidate state Sen. Dan Rutherford, Pontiac; state senator candidate William "Sam" McCann of Carlinville; and attorney general candidate Steve Kim of Chicago.
Plummer said he's spoken all across the state, but speaking in Madison County is different because it's among family and friends.
"We've heard a lot about 2010 being our year," Plummer said. ""I think it can, but the only way we are going to win is to work hard."
Plummer said Illinois residents deserve someone in Springfield who will talk about the issues.
"It's not about increasing taxes, but increasing the tax base," he said. "We have to stop punishing businesses and create an environment where they will want to be."
U.S Rep. John Shimkus of Collinsville, along with state Sen. Kyle McCarter of Lebanon and state Rep. Ron Stephens of Greenville, also spoke.
Lone Democrat and Madison County Board member Helen Hawkins of Granite City said she enjoyed the speakers. She said she's never voted a straight ticket in a general election and after listening to many of them, she liked what she heard.
"I think I will be voting for a few Republicans," Hawkins said.
Hawkins said she is considered a "renegade" Democrat.
"I always vote for who I believe will do the best job," she said.