AP NEWS

Rauner ‘tried to get out of being the governor’

December 18, 2018

The chairman of the Illinois Republican Party said he didn’t know Gov. Bruce Rauner had asked other people to take his spot in the governor’s race after a narrow primary victory and ahead of the November election contest with J.B. Pritzker.

Gov. Bruce Rauner told a Chicago TV station that he talked with four people about taking his place in the lead up to the midterm elections. Rauner said they all turned him down. Republican Party leaders said they weren’t aware of it.

“Neither myself nor the staff at the Illinois Republican Party had any knowledge of the discussions Gov. Rauner had regarding his candidacy,” Illinois Republican Party Chairman Tim Schneider said.

Former state Sen. Karen McConnaughay was one of the people Rauner asked. She said Friday she was surprised Rauner openly discussed what she viewed as a private discussion.

“I didn’t think we would ever be having a public discussion about this,” McConnaughay said. “He approached me in April of this year.”

She said Rauner didn’t seem to understand the process.

“He was sort of shopping around for his own candidate reflecting the fact that he wasn’t considering that there was an actual process in place,” she said. “He never did understand what the process was to govern when he came in, while he was the governor and while he tried to get out of being the governor. He just never did understand that there is a process for these things.”

While such a move would have been unusual, the Illinois State Board of Elections said it’s possible to replace a candidate on the ballot if they want to step down, as Rauner indicated earlier this week he wanted to do.

“If Rauner had relinquished the nomination, the GOP state central committee would have had eight days following his withdrawal to name a replacement,” ISBE spokesman Matt Dietrich said. “And this would need to happen at least 15 days before the general election for Rauner’s name to be removed and replaced with the new candidate’s name.”

State Rep. Jeanne Ives, who lost to Rauner in the March primary by 2.8 percent, said there was talk about a switch in some GOP circles. She said radio host Dan Proft, a former Republican candidate for governor, had mentioned it. She also said she’d be surprised if party officials didn’t know Rauner had considered leaving the race.

“They knew that Rauner was not in for the fight,” said Ives, R-Wheaton. “There’s no doubt in my mind that they knew he asked others to run. [Schneider] can say what he wants to all day long, I do not believe him.”

McConnaughay said she didn’t know if GOP officials were aware Rauner wanted someone else to take over in the race against Pritzker.

“I only know what I know and I’m not interested in engaging in conspiracy theories, I’ll leave that to Representative Ives,” McConnaughay said.

Ives called for Schneider to step down as the party’s leader.

She said the GOP leadership “has failed to provide a necessary contrast to the horrible policies of the Democrats and their corrupt dealings.”

Schneider said in a statement he’s focused on uniting and growing the party.

“I will continue to proudly stand in the arena with the activists, county chairmen, and committee members who want low property taxes, safe streets, good schools, and a government that does not tax and spends on the backs of hard-working families,” Schneider said.

Kash Jackson, the Libertarian Party candidate for governor, said Rauner’s comments were in line with the rest of his campaign and behavior.

“He didn’t seem to have the heart or the passion during that campaign cycle whatsoever,” Jackson said. “It seemed as though he was just doing it entirely out of lack of options and begrudgingly continuing to run.”

Conservative Party candidate for governor Sam McCann said in a text message that Rauner’s admission reaffirmed his third-party candidacy.

“It’s time for those of us who are conservatives, moderates, center-right, independents, blue dogs, or, for that matter, anyone who simply wants to see some balance restored to our state to realize that the current Illinois Republican Party is incapable of delivering that need,” McCann said. “Anyone who doesn’t believe me should simply examine the results of the most recent election.”

Pritzker won the Nov. 6 election with 54.5 percent of the vote. Rauner got 38.8 percent. McCann got 4.2 percent and Jackson got 2.4 percent.

Messages seeking comment from Pritzker’s campaign were not returned.

“This is what happens when we dumb politics down to the extent that the only requirement for you is to be able to pick out a letter next to a name inside the voting booth,” Jackson said. “That’s where mainstream politics has led us to and why we continue to not have quality candidates.”

AP RADIO
Update hourly