Local businessman Dave Severin scored a major political upset Tuesday evening, knocking Democratic State Rep. John Bradley off a perch he has controlled for more than a decade and helping alter the area's partisan loyalty in Springfield.
Severin defeated Bradley to claim the 117th House District seat following an acrimonious campaign largely played out through television commercials and campaign mailers. Bradley conceded the race by 9 p.m., according to Severin's campaign.
With all but two precincts reporting, Severin, a lifelong resident of Benton and owner of a custom embroidery business, collected about 53 percent of the vote across the district, which includes all of Franklin and Williamson counties and part of Hamilton County.
"I want to thank everyone for your support," a victorious Severin told a roomful of supporters at a victory party at Mackie's Pizza in Marion. "It just shows that if you do it the right way, good things are going to happen. We look forward to working together with all of you, and there is hope for Southern Illinois ... because all of you saw a need for change, so let's get something done for southern Illinois."
Severin, also the president of the Benton No. 47 Board of Education, put up an strong challenge to Bradley, whose past re-election fights have been largely devoid of the partisan drama that consumed this year's race. Their statehouse battle this year was one of the state's most closely watched, in large part because of Bradley's connections with Democratic House Speaker Mike Madigan.
Severin's campaign benefited from money flowing from the Illinois Republican Party, which has received substantial support from Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner.
Bradley, who was appointed to his seat in 2003 and ascended to the post of assistant majority leader in 2013, congratulated Severin on his victory.
"The people of the 117th District have spoken and I respect their decision," Bradley said in a statement. "I stand ready to assist Mr. Severin during the transition period. It has been an honor and privilege to represent the people of southern Illinois and I thank them for the trust they placed in me to be their voice at the Capitol."