State Rep. Terri Bryant is doing her damnedest to amass the most milquetoast legislative voting record possible. Her middling quest for ambiguity is a disservice to voters and her office alike.
Bryant, R-Murphysboro, yet again refused to pick a side Wednesday night when House Democrats unsuccessfully attempted to override Gov. Bruce Rauner's veto of SB 1229, legislation more concerned with empowering union bosses than serving the state.
The freshman Republican was in the chamber when the override died. She just didn't cast a vote. Any vote. None. The roll merely registers Bryant as "no vote."
Strong stand, indeed.
It's just the most recent addition to a disturbing pattern taking shape since Bryant took office in January.
Put simply, she too often goes AWOL when strident leadership is most required.
Right-to-work zones: present. July's temporary budget: no vote.
And those are just two instances where Bryant broke with many of her Republican colleagues. The House minority spent most of the defunct summer session voting "present," protesting what members see as disingenuous legislation rushed to the floor by majority Democrats. It's standard practice for a minority caucus rendered powerless by a veto-proof opposition.
Wednesday's failed override, however, was something different.
Thirty-four Republicans opposed it, backing Rauner's quest to force the state's largest union, the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, to the bargaining table. Nine lawmakers -- Democrats and Republicans -- voted "present." Just Bryant and John Cabello, R-Machesney Park, sat quietly at their desks and did nothing. Theirs is a tactic to go unnoticed. And, in so doing, Bryant's lack of grit is growing increasingly obvious.
Bryant fears both Rauner's massive war chest and her district's entrenched union interests. Wednesday's total inaction is, in effect, an attempt to avoid Rauner's ire while also steering clear of union rage come re-election.
She wants it both ways.
But AFSCME has made it clear that anything but a "yes" vote wouldn't do. Bryant's lame attempt to fly under the radar won't work.
Votes are the most telling statement of a lawmaker's true priorities. They cut through the bluster and hyperbole. They're official. They're real.
Bryant is like a burglar trying to wipe away her fingerprints. Her constituents are the victims.
We know where Rep. Brandon Phelps, D-Harrisburg, stood when he backed the override. Rep. John Bradley, D-Marion, didn't hide his union allegiance. Both men will most assuredly benefit from AFSCME support when they again seek office.
We disagree with both Phelps and Bradley on this one, but at least they had the guts to make their position known. It's part of the record. And they'll be judged accordingly. That's the very essence of legislating.
Bryant, on the contrary, talks a good game and refuses to back it up. Her largest victory so far, naming Murphysboro the BBQ capital of Illinois, is the participation trophy of legislative achievement.
Bryant was elected to make tough choices. So far, she's done nothing but run from them.