Kirk Dillard

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Kirk Dillard
Kirk Dillard, Chairman of the Board (since 2014), Regional Transportation Authority
Member of the Illinois Senate
from the 24th district
In office
Succeeded by Chris Nybo
Regional Transit Authority Chair
Assumed office
Personal details
Born (1955-06-01) June 1, 1955 (age 63)
Chicago, Illinois, U.S.
Political party Republican
Spouse(s) Stephanie Dillard
Residence Hinsdale, Illinois[1]
Alma mater Western Illinois University,

DePaul University

Kirk W. Dillard (born June 1, 1955) is a former Republican member of the Illinois State Senate, representing the 24th District from 1994 until his resignation in August 2014.[2] He is also the former chairman of the DuPage County Republican Party. Dillard is a member of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), serving as Illinois state leader.[3]

Early life and education[edit]

Dillard was born in Chicago in 1955. He graduated from Hinsdale Central High School, where he is now a Hall of Fame Alumnus,[4] received his B.A. from Western Illinois University, and later obtained his J.D. from DePaul University College of Law. Dillard serves as a Public Policy School mentor for the University of Chicago.

Early career[edit]

Dillard was the Chief of Staff to former Governor Jim Edgar, starting in 1991, for Edgar's first term. He also served as the Director of Legislative Affairs to former Governor James R. Thompson. Dillard was a judge on the Illinois Court of Claims from 1987 through 1991, and was a member of the Republican Illinois State Central Committee. He sits on the Board of Directors for the Robert Crown Center for Health Education and is a partner at Locke Lord Bissell & Liddell LLP.

Illinois State Senate[edit]

Dillard served in the Illinois Senate from 1994 to 2014. In the 95th General Assembly, he served as the Senate GOP Whip.[5]

In June 2007, he appeared in an Iowa TV ad touting his former state senate colleague, Barack Obama.[6]

Dillard served in the Illinois Senate as the Co-Chairperson of the Judiciary Committee, and Chairman of the High Technology Task Force. He also served on the Senate Committee as a Whole; Environment & Energy Committee; Executive Appointments Committee; Licensed Activities Committee; and the Subcommittee on Amendments; Subcommittee on Special Issues (Where he was the Sub-Minority Spokesperson); and the Environment & Energy Subcommittee.

Dillard cosponsored the Senior Citizens Tax Deferral program.[7]

Dillard was a sponsor of Illinois' first major campaign finance and ethics reform in 25 years.[8]

Illinois Governor campaigns[edit]


On July 8, 2009, Dillard officially announced his candidacy for governor in Hinsdale, Illinois.[9][10] He opened a campaign office on Ogden Avenue in Lisle, Illinois.

Dillard attempted to frame his campaign as focused on enacting Illinois ethics reform and making the state more financially responsible to the taxpayers.[11] The field for the February 2, 2010 primary was crowded, with seven Republicans running. Dillard was dogged through the entire campaign for a commercial in which he appeared to endorse Democrat Barack Obama for President, leading conservative activists to compare him to Dede Scozzafava.[12][13][14][15]

In his campaign for governor, Dillard was endorsed by the Illinois State Rifle Association,[16] National Rifle Association,[16] Illinois Education Association,[17] Union of Operating Engineers, Local 150, Sangamon County Republican Party, Family-PAC, Aurora Beacon News, Chicago Sun-Times, Crain's Chicago Business, Peoria Journal Star, Elgin Courier, Kankakee City News, Naperville Sun, News-Herald, Southtown Star, Southwest News-Herald, Springfield State Journal-Register, St. Louis Post-Dispatch.[18] He was also endorsed by former Illinois Governor Jim Edgar.[19][20][21]

Dillard placed second, losing to Bill Brady by 193 votes. Dillard did not concede the race until a month after the election.


Jil Tracy, whose family owns DOT Foods, is Dillard's running mate.

Dillard was endorsed by the Illinois Education Association, the Illinois Federation of Teachers, Illinois State Rifle Association, AFSCME, former Governors Jim Edgar and Jim Thompson, and the Fraternal Order of Police Labor Council[22][23]

Leading up to the March Primary, a Capitol Fax/We Ask America poll indicated that Bruce Rauner was leading in Dillard's home Senate District likely due to a strong television advertising push by Rauner.[24] However, a more recent We Ask America Poll was conducted just a week before the Primary Election and showed a late surge for Dillard.

Rauner defeated Dillard with 40% of the vote to Dillard's 37%.

RTA Chairman[edit]

In late June 2014 Dillard was selected to become the RTA's new chairperson.[25] He indicated that his priorities as RTA chair would include eliminating interagency turf wars and improving Metra service reliability.[1]


In 2004, an unsigned opinion piece in the New York Times called on Dillard to run against his old friend Barack Obama for U.S. Senator, stating "Illinois needs you—and so does Mr. Obama."[26]

Dillard has been called an "accomplished and articulate legislator," by Politico.[27]

Awards and honors[edit]

The following awards and honors have been given to Dillard during his time in the Illinois Senate:

  • Crain's Chicago Business "Who's Who in Chicago Business".
  • University of Illinois at Springfield's Illinois Issues Magazine, "Legislative Staff Hall of Fame.
  • "Outstanding Legislator" presented by both the nation's private bi-partisan and Republican legislators associations.
  • Illinois State Crime Commission "Legislator of the Year".
  • Family PAC "Legislator of the Year" & "Friend of the Family" awards.
  • Illinois Equal Justice Foundation – "Champion of Justice Award" for providing legal aid to low-income families.
  • Illinois Press Association – "Legislative Service Award" for dedication to strengthening Open Meetings and Freedom of Information Acts.
  • Illinois Chamber of Commerce – "Champion of Free Enterprise".
  • Named Western Illinois University's "Man of the Year" in 1977.
  • The Illinois Hospital and Health Systems Association named Dillard an "Outstanding Legislator for 1999."[28]
  • Illinois Civil Justice League "Friends of Fairness" Award


  1. ^ a b Kirk Dillard to be New RTA Chairman. Chicago Tonight – WTTW
  2. ^
  3. ^ State Chairs – ALEC – American Legislative Exchange Council
  4. ^ Hall of Fame Hinsdale Central High School Foundation
  5. ^ Senate GOP – Sen. Dillard to Serve as GOP Whip in 95th General Assembly. December 13th, 2006.
  6. ^ Topic Galleries Chicago Tribune 27 June 2007
  7. ^ Illinois Statewide School Management Alliance. Digest of New School Laws, 2003.
  8. ^ Ed Wojcicki "STILL THE WILD WEST? A 10-YEAR LOOK AT CAMPAIGN FINANCE REFORM IN ILLINOIS" Carbondale: Southern Illinois University September 2006
  9. ^ Kirk Dillard Launches Campaign For Governor
  10. ^ Dillard to announce run for Ill. governor
  11. ^ Dillard announces his candidacy for governor
  12. ^ Is Kirk Dillard the New Dede Scozzafava?
  13. ^ Attacking Obama in Illinois
  14. ^ Shame on Kirk Dillard for Showing even a Hint of Bipartisanship!
  15. ^ With Friends Like These...
  16. ^ a b Dillard gets NRA/ISRA endorsements
  17. ^ IEA recommends Hynes, Dillard for governor Archived 2012-07-15 at
  18. ^ Kirk Dillard Endorsements
  19. ^ Kirk Dillard gets formal endorsement from Jim Edgar
  20. ^ Endorsement: State Sen. Dillard is best choice in strong GOP field
  21. ^ Former Gov. Jim Edgar Endorses Kirk Dillard
  22. ^ Bond, Brendan (February 17, 2014). "DILLARD TO RECEIVE MUCH-NEEDED MAJOR ENDORSEMENT TODAY". Associated Press. Reboot Illinois. Retrieved March 10, 2014. 
  23. ^ "State's largest public workers union backs Dillard". Associated Press. March 5, 2014. Archived from the original on March 10, 2014. Retrieved March 10, 2014. 
  24. ^ Dietrich, Matt (February 23, 2014). "POLL: RAUNER HAS BIG LEAD IN DILLARD'S SENATE DISTRICT". Associated Press. Reboot Illinois. Retrieved March 10, 2014. 
  25. ^ Dillard elected RTA chairman –
  26. ^ Chase the Guy With the Ball New York Times, July 21, 2004
  27. ^ Barack Obama’s accidental surrogate
  28. ^ HCHS Foundation – Hall Of Fame 2001 Inductee Kirk W. Dillard

External links[edit]

Illinois General Assembly