A southern Illinois Democrat is likely to make the most important vote of his political career in the weeks after he is appointed to the office, but will he side with Gov. J.B. Pritzker, or his more conservative constituents?
Nathan Reitz was appointed by political leaders from Randolph, St. Clair, Monroe and Perry counties near his home in Steeleville in Southern Illinois and sworn in as the newest 116th district state representative Thursday. He replaced Red Bud Democrat Jerry Costello, who was one of the key votes in the House against Pritzker’s proposed change to Illinois’ constitution to allow for a progressive income tax. Pritzker appointed Costello to a position with the Illinois Department of Natural Resources.
Nathan Reitz’ father, Dan Reitz, is no stranger to Springfield. Dan Reitz, from Steeleville, was a long-time Democratic representative who resigned in 2011 shortly after voting to raise the state’s income tax. He was replaced by Costello, who resigned the seat this month.
When asked about his son’s views on taxes, Dan Reitz said his son knows his district and the values of his constituents.
“Democrats in this area are very conservative on social issues and fiscally conservative. He’s pro-gun, pro-life, pro-agriculture,” father Dan Reitz said. “As with all representatives and senators, it’s their job to represent the views and beliefs of the people in their district. It’s important to have that voice in the Democrat Caucus … Like the other representatives from Southern Illinois, he’ll step up and tell them what he thinks would be best for our area.”
Dan Reitz said his son knows Costello well and talks to him often.
The elder Reitz is a registered lobbyist representing a number of public utilities. He said he’ll talk to his son, but it’s on Nathan Reitz to represent his former district.
“Like anyone else, you know, I’ll talk to him, weigh in on issues, but he’s going to make his decision, he’s the one pushing the button,” he said.
President Donald Trump won Reitz’ district handily in 2016 with more than two-thirds of the vote.
In a statement, Ideas Illinois chairman Greg Baise weighed in on the appointment.
““Nathan Reitz’s first big decision as a new representative will be to decide whether he stands with middle class families in his district by opposing the unfair Jobs Tax or be just another Springfield politician bought and paid for by JB Pritzker and Speaker Madigan,” he said.
The Illinois GOP is more pessimistic.
“The fix is in,” said chairman Tim Schneider. “One of the last votes Nathan Reitz’s father, former State Rep. Dan Reitz, took was Mike Madigan’s 2011 tax hike. Now, Pritzker and Madigan want one of the first votes of Nathan Reitz to be yet another tax hike on Illinois families and small businesses.”