Rauner invests in candidacy

By Michael Urbanec

SPRINGFIELD — With primaries approaching in the spring, Republican gubernatorial candidates are beginning to gain speed in their respective campaigns for office.

Gov. Bruce Rauner, the incumbent, will once again appear on the ballot for the primary election March 20. The other candidates on the ballot are State Rep. Jeanne Ives (R-Wheaton) and William Kelly, a perennial candidate and Chicago-land area radio show host.

Rauner was elected governor in 2014 over former incumbent Democrat Pat Quinn, winning every county in the state except for Cook County, a long time stronghold for Democrats.

Rauner spent a record $65.3 million on the 2014 election and has already spent $50 million on the 2018 election, according to IllinoisSunshine.org, which is run by political advocacy group Illinois Campaign for Political Reform. His spending for the current election started in December of 2016 — less than two years after he initially became governor.

Rauner is running again in 2018 on the campaign promise of creating jobs by “lowering the cost of doing business by reforming Illinois’ high-cost workers compensation system, reining in out-of-control lawsuit abuse and freezing property taxes,” according to his campaign website.

In a 2013 study by non-profit group Workers Compensation Research Institute, Illinois was found to pay out more in worker’s compensation cases than any other state — $15,626 compared to the national average of $10,354.

Freezing property taxes means homeowners would pay the same amount of property taxes next year as they did this year regardless of changing property and land value. A property tax freeze will help prevent long-time homeowners from being priced out of their home as their neighborhoods develop, according to the National Conference of State Legislators.

“If we tax less, more people will want to live here,” said Ed Bowie, NIU College Republicans president. “And if you take less money from more people, you will end up with more money. You’re never going to get anywhere by taxing fewer people more.”

The lawsuit abuse Rauner references may be in connection to Illinois being ranked the third most unfair state to be sued in, according to a 2015 U.S. Chamber of Commerce study. The example used in the study was a case in Madison County where more than 300 lawsuits were filed over asbestos, with 90 percent of the cases being filed by people living outside of Illinois.

Rauner believes by fixing these issues, he will create a more business-friendly economic situation within the state, according to his website. He also wants to continue in his efforts to put a cap on how much the state is allowed to spend and pay off the state’s debt.

Rauner recently signed House Bill 0040, which aims to expand taxpayer-subsidized abortion. His signing of this bill could create a rift within his own party, and some Republicans are outraged.

“If anything was going to harm his candidacy, it was this,” said Bowie. “He told us he was going to veto this, and then he didn’t. I was disappointed when he did this.”

Initially having no intention to run for governor, Jeanne Ives’ mind changed when Rauner allowed HB0040 to pass through his office.

“The Governor’s decision to break his promise and sign taxpayer-funded abortion on-demand is a profound and unprecedented betrayal beyond words,” Ives said in a Sept. 28 Facebook post. “This is a tragic day for everyone who values the sanctity of life.”

Ives also criticized Rauner in the post and called his ability to lead the state and the Republican party into question.

Ives officially started circulating petitions for her candidacy Saturday.

Kelly is a TV producer and radio host from Chicago. He ran for comptroller in 2010 on the platform of transparency, and he is now running for governor because he believes Rauner does not stand a chance in a one-on-one race.

“I believe Ives is in this race to help Governor Rauner,” Kelly said in a letter on his campaign website. “The very same people who are supporting her campaign profited the most from Rauner and his election. Perhaps they still are.”