Gov. Bruce Rauner's campaign committee has hired Matt Besler, president of the Illinois Opportunity Project, as its chief adviser, the non-profit advocacy announced on Monday.
Besler will work for Citizens for Rauners Inc. on the governor's re-election campaign as well as with the Illinois Republican Party and Senate and House GOP organizations. His knowledge of the state's political landscape and issues is expected to be an asset to Rauner's 2018 bid.
"The work we've done on policy and political advocacy over the past three election cycles and the progress we've made in that time must culminate with Gov. Rauner's re-election in 2018 and an end to Speaker (Mike) Madigan's reign in the House," Besler said in the announcement. "I've enjoyed a great working relationship with both the House and Senate GOP caucuses and their staffs. I look forward to that continuing in furtherance of the electoral goals we share for the 2018 cycle."
Illinois Republican Party Chairman Tim Schneider, House Minority Leader Jim Durkin and Senate Minority Leader Bill Brady released a joint statement praising the move.
“We are excited to work with Matt towards our shared goal of turning around Illinois by re-electing Governor Rauner and electing more Illinois Republicans to the General Assembly and Congress," they said in the statement. "The Illinois Republican Party and the House and Senate Republicans’ political organizations believe in service to the common good and are committed to advancing the principles of freedom, opportunity, and limited government. A proven strategist, Matt Besler will be instrumental in the realization of those ideals.”
Illinois Opportunity Project co-founder Pat Hughes will serve as interim president during Besler's leave of absence.
"We congratulate IOP President Matt Besler on his new position as chief strategic advisor to Citizens for Rauner Inc.," the group said in a statement. "His strong leadership and strategic vision have been critical to the expansion of the liberty movement in Illinois."