Pat Quinn
(Seth Perlman/AP)
December 30, 2013

Gov. Quinn Sets Priorities For 2014

Gov. Pat Quinn won't say what he thinks should happen when an income tax increase is set to expire in January 2015. 

Quinn tells The Associated Press it'll have to be dealt with in the coming year.  The governor also says he supports a graduated income tax which is based on people's ability to pay.
The Chicago Democrat is wrapping up a year where he signed a fix of Illinois' $100 billion pension problem and legislation legalizing same-sex marriage into law. He says those accomplishments will give him a boost next year.

In a year-end interview with The Associated Press, the Chicago Democrat highlights those accomplishments as evidence of both Illinois' progress and his leadership, hinting at possible re-election themes and saying he isn't concerned about criticism from four Republicans gearing up to take him on.
The four Republicans running in the primary have questioned Quinn's ability to get things done in Springfield. They are venture capitalist Bruce Rauner, state Sen. Bill Brady, state Sen. Kirk Dillard and Treasurer Dan Rutherford.  One Democrat, Tio Hardiman, has filed to challenge Quinn in the primary.
Quinn says he's ready to float another capital construction plan, supports a "progressive'' income tax and is for closing corporate tax loopholes.

Bruce Rauner
(Brian Mackey/IPR)
November 25, 2013

Rauner Made $53 Million In 2012

One of the Republicans running for governor had a very good year in 2012. Bruce Rauner released his tax returns Monday, and says he made more than $53 million.

When people say, don't work for your money, make money work for you, this is what they're talking about.

Rauner's 2012 tax returns show he and his wife made almost all of their money on interest, capital gains, and real estate.

The line on his tax form for W-2s, where most people report "wages, salaries, (and) tips," shows zero dollars.

Rauner is far-and-away the wealthiest candidate among the four men competing for the Republican nomination. That's really saying something, since the others are a former executive, a corporate lawyer, and a real estate developer.

In a statement, Rauner says he's worked hard for his money, and feels "incredibly blessed" about his success. He says, if elected, he'll put his money in a blind trust.

Kirk DIllard - U of I
(Jeff Bossert/WILL)
November 15, 2013

Dillard Weighs In On Business, Education, And Rauner At U of I

State Senator Kirk Dillard says Illinois is overtaxed and over-regulated, and that’s playing a large part in the unemployment rate.

The Republican Senator and candidate for Illinois governor met Friday with three manufacturers in Danville to discuss what he calls extra regulatory burdens Illinois has versus other Midwestern states.

"We need to have a change in our worker's compensation system that makes us more competitive with places like Indiana, or Wisconsin," he said.  "I am laser-focused on making us a destination economy for people that create jobs."

Meeting with students on the University of Illinois’ Urbana campus, Dillard said the majority of their questions focused on the amount of student loan debt. 

Urbana Democratic Representative Naomi Jakobsson recently introduced a bill that would urge Congress to restore full bankruptcy protections to all student loans.  Dillard said he’d have to review the measure. 

He blames higher tuition rates on the ‘mismanagement’ of Governor Pat Quinn and legislators the past decade. 

He said legislators appear to be close to finding a solution to Illinois' $100-billion pension crisis, but didn't endorse a specific plan Friday.

Dillard said fellow GOP gubernatorial candidate and venture capitalist Bruce Rauner is trying to buy the election. 

His comments come in response to the news that Rauner has placed $500,000 of his own money into his coffers.  Dillard said the March primary will be won on issues, not campaign spending.

“I think he put that money in because he’s probably running close to last in the polls.  It is votes in a grassroots operation that win elections, not money.  And to our credit in this state, both political parties have never let a gozillionaire like Rauner who has made millions of dollars off of public pension systems ever buy an election, and I hope that won’t continue this time.”

The Hinsdale Republican says he’s not a regional candidate, but a suburbanite with strong downstate roots.

Dillard says he’s not attempting to repeal same-sex marriage, with its recent passage and signing next week by Governor Pat Quinn.  He said the issue is now behind us, and is making the economy his main priority.

October 08, 2013

Rauner Chooses Wheaton Official For Running Mate

Republican gubernatorial candidate Bruce Rauner has selected Wheaton City Council member Evelyn Sanguinetti as his running mate.

The businessman announced his choice Tuesday morning in a statement.

“She has the talent and guts to take on the lobbyists, special interests, and career politicians that are destroying this state and eliminating opportunities for the next generation,” Rauner said.

Sanguinetti is a lawyer who was once an assistant attorney general in Illinois.  She's the daughter of immigrants and was born in Florida.
Rauner is the last 2014 Republican candidate in the race to name a lieutenant governor pick.
Illinois Treasurer Dan Rutherford has named attorney Steve Kim, state Sen. Bill Brady chose former Long Grove Village President Maria Rodriguez, and state Sen. Kirk Dillard announced state Rep. Jil Tracy.
Gov. Pat Quinn hasn't yet announced a running mate. Lt. Gov. Sheila Simon is running for state comptroller.
Rauner and Sanguinetti plan to spend the next two days touring the state.

The Champaign County Republican Party’s annual Fall Festival included a straw poll for each of the candidates seeking the GOP nomination for governor of Illinois.
(Sean Powers/WILL)
September 16, 2013

Rutherford Wins Champaign Co. Republican Straw Poll

The Republican Primary for Illinois governor does not happen until early next year, but over the weekend voters in Champaign County heard from all four candidates and chose their favorite in a straw poll.

Party faithfuls also had the chance to reflect on the GOP’s vision.

In a straw poll at the Champaign County Republican Party’s annual Fall Festival in Urbana, State Treasurer Dan Rutherford came out on top. Rutherford’s message ahead of the vote was clear --- for the Republican Party to grow, it must diversify.

“We have to accept that there are people out there that should be and could be good Republicans that are different skin colors than us,” Rutherford said. “They pray to a different God than us. They have a different mother country than some of us western Europeans got.”

One example of that diversity can be seen in Rutherford’s choice for a running mate. He picked Chicago Attorney Steve Kim, who if elected, would be the state’s first Asian American lieutenant governor.

Illinois State Treasurer Dan Rutherford (Sean Powers/WILL)

Bruce Rauner, a Chicago Venture Capitalist, took second in the straw poll. Rauner called the GOP “the party of America.” He wants Republicans to rally around lower taxes, limited government, and personal responsibility. He said he can restore the state.

“My youngest daughter said, ‘Daddy, don’t run for governor. I don’t want you to go to jail.’ I said, ‘Katie, that’s one of the reasons I want to run. I’m going to put all those corrupt guys in prison, and all their cronies,’” Rauner said. “The government union bosses who make their money from the taxpayers own the Democratic Party and unfortunately for us they own a lot of the Republicans in Springfield, too. We got to change that.”

Rauner is pushing for a ballot initiative to make it more difficult to override a governor's veto. He also wants to change the makeup of the General Assembly, and push for term limits. 

Chicago Venture Capitalist Bruce Rauner (Sean Powers/WILL)

State Sen. Kirk Dillard (R-Hinsdale) stressed the importance of fixing the state’s finances, and strengthening higher education at schools, like the University of Illinois.

Dillard narrowly lost the Republican Primary for governor in 2010, and in Sunday’s straw poll, he came in third place. Dillard served as former Republican Gov. Jim Edgar’s chief of staff, and he is determined to see Democratic House Speaker Michael Madigan back in the minority.

“We’re going to do the same thing that we did in the Edgar administration with Mike Madigan,” Edgar said. “We’re going to make him the minority leader. And we also want every, every constitutional office statewide. So, I am the electable Republican. I know how to make a Democratic legislature do things that’s not in its DNA to do like live within its means.”

Dillard was the only candidate to bring his running mate, State Rep. Jil Tracy (R-Quincy). She also addressed the crowd of about 450 people. 

State Rep. Jill Tracy and Sen. Kirk Dillard (Sean Powers/WILL)

Bill Brady, the Republican nominee for Illinois governor in 2010, came in last in Sunday’s straw poll. The state senator from Bloomington urged voters to give him another shot, so that he can fix Illinois’ unemployment rate, address the unfunded pension liability, and attract new businesses.

“The Democrats and Pat Quinn are about supersizing things when we need a value meal, and that means lower taxes, more efficient government, and that’s what we need to do as Republicans and that’s what we need to promote,” Brady said.

Sen. Bill Brady (Sean Powers/WILL)

After the candidates spoke, Harriet Rose held onto flyers and pamphlets from each of them. Her son is State Sen. Chapin Rose (R-Mahomet). Rose is still undecided, and she said she likes what they all had to say.

“Brady made a grammar mistake, which really he shouldn’t have done that,” Rose smirked, adding that will not affect whether she supports him.

Rose explained that she wants a governor who can turn the state’s economy around. 

“The Illinois economy really needs a boost, and taxes are a problem,” Rose said. "I wish we could take back some of the power from Chicago.”

Champaign resident Todd Hunter was also at the event. This is the first year the candidates can pick their own running mates, something Hunter said will be on his mind as he decides who to support.

“It’s really the only insight into who else they’d pick, and whether they’re going for a strong personal relationship or something they think will be attractive to certain voters or all voters or fundraising,” he said. “It tells me what their priorities are. ”

The final tally on the straw poll showd Dan Rutherford with 50.4 percent of the vote, followed by Bruce Rauner with 22.6 percent, then Kirk Dillard with 19.1 percent, and Bill Brady trailing with 7.8 percent. But like any campaign, a lot can change in six months.


Bruce Rauner
(Seth Perlman/AP)
September 04, 2013

Political Newcomer Rauner Seeks To Overhaul Statehouse

Venture capitalist Bruce Rauner is drumming up his campaign for governor with a second campaign. Rauner, a Republican, is trying to get a question on the 2014 ballot that could lead to major changes in state government.  

He said he will donate a sizable portion of his personal fortune into the effort. Illinois Public Radio's Amanda Vinicky spoke about it with him at length in the following interview.

Meanwhile, at least one of Rauner's opponents in the GOP primary,  Sen. Kirk Dillard (R-Hinsdale),  is critical of the plan. Dillard said downsizing the Senate is a "slap in the face" to downstate voters, because it would make districts unmanageably large.  Dillard noted that he favors term limits for Illinois'  House Speaker and Senate President, with whom he says too much power is concentrated.



We, the undersigned, being qualified electors of the State of Illinois, who have affixed our signatures in our own proper person to this Petition after July 1, 2013, do hereby petition, pursuant to Section 3 of Article XIV of the Constitution of the State of Illinois, that there be submitted to the qualified electors of this State, for adoption or rejection at the General Election to be held on Tuesday, November 4, 2014, in the manner provided by law, a nonseverable proposition to amend Sections 1, 2, and 9 of Article IV of the Constitution of the State of Illinois, the amended Sections and the Transition Schedule applicable thereto to read as follows:


The legislative power is vested in a General Assembly consisting of a Senate and a House of Representatives, elected by the electors from 41 Legislative Districts and 123 Representative Districts, with such numeration to become effective on January 1, 2023. These Legislative Districts and Representative Districts shall be drawn as provided by law following each decennial census.


(a) One Senator shall be elected from each Legislative District. Immediately following each decennial redistricting, the General Assembly by law shall divide the Legislative Districts as equally as possible into three groups. Senators from one group shall be elected for terms of four years, four years and two years; Senators from the second group, for terms of four years, two years and four years; and Senators from the third group, for terms of two years, four years and four years. The Legislative Districts in each group shall be distributed substantially equally over the State. Notwithstanding the foregoing, effective January 1, 2023, all Senate terms will be for four years.

(b) Each Legislative District shall be divided into three Representative Districts. In 1982 and every two years thereafter one Representative shall be elected from each Representative District for a term of two years.

. . .

(f) No person may serve more than eight years in the General Assembly. No person may be elected or appointed as Senator or Representative if upon completion of the term of office that person will have been a member of the General Assembly for more than eight years. Time served in the General Assembly before the session beginning in January 2015 does not count toward the eight-year service limitation.


(c) The house to which a bill is returned shall immediately enter the Governor's objections upon its journal. If within 15 calendar days after such entry that house by a record vote of two-thirds of the members elected passes the bill, it shall be delivered immediately to the second house. If within 15 calendar days after such delivery the second house by a record vote of two-thirds of the members elected passes the bill, it shall become law.


This Amendment takes effect upon adoption by the electors at the general election on November 4, 2014.

We also petition that, to the extent permitted by law, this proposition be submitted on a separate blue ballot and that the proposition and the related explanation be printed in substantially the following terms:


Explanation of Amendment.

The purpose of this amendment is: (1) to establish term limits for members of the General Assembly; (2) to require a two-thirds vote in each chamber of the General Assembly to override the Governor’s veto of legislation; (3) to abolish two-year senatorial terms; (4) to change the House of Representatives from 118 representatives to 123 representatives; (5) to change the Senate from 59 senators to 41 senators; and (6) to divide legislative (senatorial) districts into three representative districts rather than two.

Place an “X” in the blank box opposite “Yes” or “No” to indicate your choice.


September 03, 2013

Rauner's Term-Limit Effort Could Face Better Odds, Concerns

An expert in term limits says a Republican governor candidate's proposal to overhaul the Illinois Legislature is better structured than past failed bids.

University of Illinois Professor and Director of Institute of Government and Public Affairs Chris Mooney says Bruce Rauner's petition drive to limit lawmakers to eight years in office is savvy in its three-pronged approach.

The Winnetka venture capitalist's proposal would not only limit the length of terms but also cut the size of the Senate and make it harder to override a governor's veto.

Those elements could help the proposal overcome a state Supreme Court ruling that struck down a 1994 initiative because it didn't make "structural and procedural'' changes to the Legislature. 

But the Illinois Campaign for Political Reform says it is concerned that Rauner's petition drive could unfairly boost his separate governor's campaign.

Dan Rutherford
(Brian Mackey/IPR)
August 16, 2013

Republicans Face Competing Visions for a GOP Governor

Party leaders and candidates rallied in Springfield Thursday at the Illinois State Fair, where the men competing for the top of the ticket each say they're uniquely qualified to revive the Illinois Republican Party.

Illinois Republicans are at a crossroads. The party has a historically small number of people in the Illinois Senate, and a small minority in the House, too. But Republicans are also hopeful about 2014, when they have the chance to win back the Illinois governor's office, ending 12 years of Democratic rule.

Party leaders and candidates rallied in Springfield Thursday at the Illinois State Fair, where the men competing for the top of the ticket each say they're uniquely qualified to revive the Illinois Republican Party.

It's appropriate that Republicans began the day with a meeting in a hotel off Springfield's Dirksen Parkway. Everett Dirksen was a Republican U.S. senator at a time when Republicans were not just competitive in Illinois, but in some elections were dominant.

They held the governor's job as much as they didn't, and often controlled at least one chamber of the General Assembly.

Not so in the last dozen years, when Democrats have had a lock on the Supreme Court, legislature and governor's mansion.

 More than a hundred Republicans heard from their party leaders and top candidates at the State Central Committee and County Chairmen’s Association meeting on Thursday in Springfield.

More than a hundred Republicans heard from their party leaders and top candidates at the State Central Committee and County Chairmen’s Association meeting on Thursday in Springfield. (Brian Mackey/IPR)

It's in this climate that four men are trying to make the case for why they're best suited to return Republicans to power. Speaking before a gathering of more than a hundred top GOP officials, State Treasurer Dan Rutherford says Republicans need to go beyond their traditional base — mostly white, suburban and rural voters.

"I know that going into communities of diversity is imperative for us as Republicans to earn the right to govern," Rutherford says.

Rutherford points out he got more votes as a candidate for treasurer in 2010 than Pat Quinn did in winning a term as governor. He says that was only possible because he was at least marginally competitive in Chicago, winning 22 percent of the vote.

"You can't do that with just us as Republicans," he says. "We have to be able to attract people from the Democratic Party and independents."

State Sen. Kirk Dillard sounded a similar note in his speech. Well, first he recalled his time as chief of staff to Gov. Jim Edgar, in the 1990s. That's when there was a two-year interruption to House Speaker Mike Madigan's long reign.

"We made Mike Madigan the minority leader, and we've got to do it again," Dillard says.

But a little later in his speech, Dillard tacitly acknowledged it's unlikely the Democrats would lose control of the House or Senate. Dillard says the party needs a candidate who can deal with that reality.

"It's not enough just to elect a Republican governor," he says. "I know how to govern a Democrat legislature to get it to do things, to get that Democrat legislature to live within its means."

 State Sen. Kirk Dillard, who came within 200 votes of winning the Republican nomination for governor in 2010, asks party members for another chance on Thursday at the Illinois State Fair.

State Sen. Kirk Dillard, who came within 200 votes of winning the Republican nomination for governor in 2010, asks party members for another chance on Thursday at the Illinois State Fair. (Amanda Vinicky/IPR)

It's on those types of questions about governing style that the candidates set themselves apart.

On questions of policy, they all talk a good game about cutting state spending and enacting laws they say will improve the job climate in Illinois. But contrast Dillard's assertion he can govern a "Democrat legislature" with Republican businessman Bruce Rauner, who's promising to take office in a confident fighting crouch.

"I love to fight. I love to win," Rauner says. "I've been a leader at everything I've touched throughout my career — both in business, and in our civic leadership here in Illinois."

That was Rauner's message at the morning meeting of the State Central Committee and county chairmen. Before lunch, everyone piled into their cars and drove north — on Dirksen Parkway — for a rally on the Illinois State Fairgrounds.

Now, Rauner would deliver an even more pointed critique: "I love the state, and we're going down the drain. We're in a death spiral. And the career politicians in Springfield have failed us repeatedly."

 Businessman Bruce Rauner tried to brand himself as political outsider in a speech to Republicans at the Illinois State Fair on Thursday, as he vies for the GOP nomination for governor.

Businessman Bruce Rauner tried to brand himself as political outsider in a speech to Republicans at the Illinois State Fair on Thursday, as he vies for the GOP nomination for governor. (Amanda Vinicky/IPR)

Notice he didn't confine his attack to "career Democratic politicians."

The last name in the race should be a familiar one — state Sen. Bill Brady, who narrowly lost to Quinn in the last election. Brady says he's eager for a rematch.

"You know, I played sports in high school and college, and you always love the idea of going up against the team that beat you the last time," he says. "And we've got the running shoes on."

Brady was actually wearing running shoes. But for that to make sense, you have to go back to a dig Gov. Quinn made the day before.

"I was given a nine percent chance of winning in the General Election. And we won. And Brady's still looking for his gym shoes," Quinn said.

Brady used this line in both of his Republican Day speeches.

"Gov. Quinn indicated that he beat me, and that I was still looking for my running shoes," Brady says. "Well ladies and gentlemen, I'm here today with running shoes on, and game on for the Republican Party."

 State Sen. Bill Brady listens to fellow candidates for governor address a meeting of top Republican leaders in Springfield. Responding to a dig by incumbent Democratic Gov. Pat Quinn, Brady made a point of wearing running shoes.

State Sen. Bill Brady listens to fellow candidates for governor address a meeting of top Republican leaders in Springfield. Responding to a dig by incumbent Democratic Gov. Pat Quinn, Brady made a point of wearing running shoes. (Brian Mackey/IPR)

Now the hard work of campaigning begins in earnest. The candidates will soon have to announce their lieutenant-governor running mates. And they still have to figure out a way to impress Republican primary voters without tacking so far to the right it's difficult to appeal to independent voters in the General Election.

It's unlikely Republicans will be able to turn Illinois back into — as Brady suggested — a red state. Owing to favorable district boundaries and the changing demographics of Illinois voters, it would be a real challenge to take back the Illinois House or Senate.

But the GOP came within one percentage point of winning the governorship in 2010. And that suggests next year, the office is at least potentially within their grasp.

Mark Kirk
(Seth Perlman/AP)
August 15, 2013

Sen. Mark Kirk Urges GOP To "Never Give Up" At State Fair

A year-and-a-half after his stroke, U.S. Sen. Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) returned to central Illinois for the first time this week.

Members of his party gave him a warm welcome on Thursday at Republican Day at the Illinois State Fair. Republican Day serves as the formal kickoff of the 2014 campaign and Kirk's official re-entry into the political arena.

He suffered partial paralysis as a result of the Jan. 2012 stroke, and his health kept him out of the Senate for about a year. As Kirk made his way to the podium with the help of a cane, the friendly audience waved yard signs with the phrase ‘Never Give Up’ printed on them.

Kirk encouraged fellow Illinois Republicans to look to his example and "never give up'' in their quest to rebuild the party. The party comes off major losses in 2012 as well as a recent gay marriage flap.

He said Republicans' stance on fiscally conservative values will help protect Illinois from fiscal insolvency.

"We are the fifth largest industrial and state and too much is - I think everybody should agree that our Republican fiscally conservative values are the way forward to make sure that we are the ones who are going to rescue Illinois," Kirk said. "We already know how to do it. With our economic policies we can do it."

Kirk’s Senate seat isn’t up for election again until 2016. His speech lasted about 90 seconds, while some candidates for governor went on for more than seven minutes.

State Sen. Bill Brady (R-Bloomington) also addressed supporters.  He is making his third bid for governor after losing to Gov. Pat Quinn by less than 1 percent in 2010.

But Quinn cracked Wednesday that his win left Brady "looking for his running shoes.''  Brady told attendees Thursday that it was "game on'' for the Republican Party, pledging to finish the job he started.

State Sen. and gubernatorial candidate Kirk Dillard (R-Hinsdale) told attendees at the party's Thursday morning state central committee meeting in Springfield that he understands Illinois better than the three other primary candidates.

He said as governor, he would work with the legislature so the debt-laden state can begin to live within its means.

Dillard lost a 2010 primary challenge to Sen. Brady by 193 votes.

Republican Illinois Treasurer and gubernatorial candidate Dan Rutherford told attendees at Thursday's state central committee meeting that "a great part of success is just showing up.'' The former state senator from Chenoa said he has been to dinners, events and meetings throughout the state making connections with different communities and ethnic groups.

Republican candidate for governor Bruce Rauner is promising to shake things up in Springfield. The Winnetka venture capitalist said he is not only fighting to win the party nomination and the governor's race, but wants to also help rebuild the beleaguered party. He showed up to Thursday's GOP state central committee meeting on a Harley-Davidson motorcycle.

Bruce Rauner
(Bruce Rauner)
June 06, 2013

Caterpillar CEO Endorses Rauner for Governor

One of Illinois' top business leaders and one of the most vocal critics of the state's financial mess is endorsing Republican venture capitalist Bruce Rauner for governor.

Caterpillar Inc. CEO Douglas Oberhelman said Thursday that the failures of the state's elected leaders lead him to believe a political novice like Rauner is needed.

Oberhelman said in an interview that he's frustrated with what he calls "career politicians'' and the "deep hole'' they've created.

Rauner's only declared primary competition is state Treasurer Dan Rutherford. Rutherford said Thursday that he hopes voters will see his experience in office and in elections as an asset. 

Oberhelman has frequently complained about the inability of state leaders such as Gov. Pat Quinn, a Democrat, to deal with the pension crisis and other problems.

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