Election 2020

Illinois Governor Faces Double-Digit Deficit in Re-election Bid

Governor of Illinois Bruce Rauner during a meeting with Poland President Andrzej Duda in Warsaw on April 16, 2018. (Mateusz Wlodarczyk/NurPhoto/Sipa via AP Images)

John Jackson, a political analyst with the Paul Simon Public Policy Institute in Illinois, told KFVS-TV that it is unusual for the governor of one state to call for another governor’s resignation, especially when both are from the same party.

But that is precisely what Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner did April 13 when asked by a reporter if Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens (R), who is embroiled in a sex scandal, should step down.

“I have to say I am deeply troubled by, now there has been an investigation and the investigation has brought forth some very disturbing, terrible behavior apparently,” Rauner said. “Now Democrats, as well as Republicans in Missouri, have called for the governor to step down in the best interest of Missourians, and that seems like a reasonable request.”

Why would any Republican violate Ronald Reagan’s 11th Commandment so brazenly, not only speaking ill of a fellow GOPer but actually calling for his resignation?

Jackson said it’s a sign of how much trouble Rauner faces winning re-election in November.

Gubernatorial campaigns are underway in 36 states this year. Out of those three dozen races, 23 are in GOP-held states. That’s 23 knocks of opportunity to Democrats who can only lay claim to 15 governors’ offices in America.

The knock is heard loudest in Illinois, where Rauner has been branded “the most vulnerable governor in America” by Politico.

When questioned about Greitens, Jackson said Rauner must have felt he had to speak out against his fellow Republican to save his own campaign.

“He’s trying to survive just like Gov. Greitens is trying to survive,” said Jackson. “His survival depends on what happens on November the 8th and that depends on what happens with the voters, especially those suburban woman voters that I think this is designed to appeal to.”

An Ogden & Fry survey released a few days after Illinois’s March 20 primary showed Rauner started the general election campaign down a crushing 22 points versus Democrat J.B. Pritzker.

As the Prairie State Wire reported, the news got even worse when Rauner kept reading the survey. Only 33 percent of the voters surveyed said they had a “favorable” view of the incumbent governor. Sixty-three percent said they had an “unfavorable” view of Rauner. By comparison, 45 percent have a favorable view of his Democratic opponent. Forty-seven percent said they had an “unfavorable” opinion of Pritzker.

Illinois state Rep. David McSweeney said the survey shows how much Rauner needs conservative voters who deserted him in favor of Rep. Jeanne Ives during the primary.

“He (Rauner) has to show not in words but in action that he’s willing to change to win back their support,” McSweeney told the Prairie State Wire. “At this point, I’m not sure he even wants it. I think he’s still in the first stage, the denial stage, of the whole process.”

Ives doesn’t have much use for the 11th Commandment, either. A day after the primary, Ives told conservative radio host Dan Proft, who was a strategist in her campaign, that she had nothing to say to Rauner.

“He’s unelectable in 2018. He has destroyed the Republican Party brand,” Ives said. “He’s a lame-duck governor at this point.”

Pritzker doesn’t have to worry about getting his primary opponents to back his general election campaign. He told Politico that Daniel Biss and Chris Kennedy said he’d have their support the day after the primary.

“It’s clear that the Republican Party is completely divided and Democrats with a reasonably common message were able to bring out voters,” Pritzker said.

That may be true, but the Rauner campaign started reminding voters what Biss and Kennedy said about Pritzker the morning after the primary. Pritzker ran an ad highlighting what his campaign called Rauner’s “four years of failure.”

And that, as they say, was just the beginning.

Money won’t be a problem. The Chicago Sun-Times reported Rauner has a net worth of $500 million, while Pritzker is worth $3.4 billion. And neither man was shy about putting tens of millions of dollars of their own money into their campaigns.

The Daily Northwestern reported Rauner donated $50 million to his campaign, while Priztker donated more than $76.5 million of his own money to the campaign.

The New York Times predicted the Illinois governor’s race could be one of the most expensive political campaigns the nation has ever seen.

But don’t expect tens of millions more dollars to all be spent on a healthy, robust debate over the issues important to Illinois residents.

The month of April began with Rauner’s campaign accusing Pritzker of a corrupt businessman who “discovered flaws” in the system by having the toilets ripped out of his mansion and using “insider connections” to save $230,000 on his property tax bill.

Pritzker’s campaign ran ads April 13, which was National Someone Else Day, saying that was Rauner’s favorite day of the year because he could blame four years of failure on someone else.

And, of course, President Trump will be a hot-button campaign issue. At least Democrat Pritzker hopes he is.

“I’m not going to let Donald Trump have an inch of Illinois. If Rauner is desperate, he may engage with Donald Trump and invite him to help him,” Pritzker said. “He may need to bring his party together. But I think Bruce Rauner has already proven that he’s like Donald Trump.”