Illinois Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner
State Rep. Jeanne Ives (R-Wheaton) made it official on Monday that she is challenging incumbent Gov. Bruce Rauner in the Republican primary.
After three years in office, Rauner nearly went out of his way to invite the challenge, according to a cover story for the Dec. 18 edition of the nation’s leading conservative magazine, National Review. An unflattering caricature of Rauner on the cover was tagged with: “The Worst Republican Governor in America.”
Author John J. Miller writes that what finally snapped a strained relationship between Rauner, conservatives and many traditional Republicans was his late September signing of HB40, legislation that funds abortion on demand in the state. He had earlier promised to veto the legislation as a misuse of public funds. One of the promises was a personal one made to Cardinal Blase Cupich, Catholic archbishop of Chicago.
“The betrayal capped a season of defeats for conservatives, including an income-tax hike, a big bailout of Chicago’s public schools, and turning Illinois into what critics of illegal immigration are calling a 'sanctuary state,' Miller wrote. “Now Rauner, 60, confronts a problem that few would have predicted as recently as last spring: a possible Republican meltdown in the Land of Lincoln. In next year’s GOP primary, he’ll face a scrappy challenge from a credible conservative opponent. Jeanne Ives is a graduate of West Point, a mom, and a wonky state representative from Wheaton. ... 'Somebody needs to stand up for Republicans and conservatives,’ she says. ‘We can do a lot better than Bruce Rauner.’”
It didn’t start out that way. Many conservatives and traditional Republicans had high hopes that Rauner could take on the public sector unions working with dug-in legislative Democrats whose policies were draining the economic vitality out of the state. Instead he got into bed with them. When he announced there was some wiggle room on additional taxes, Democrats sent him tax-hike legislation offering nothing in return. He capitulated on a plan to bail out the Chicago teacher pension fund, and he signed the legislation that effectively makes Illinois a sanctuary state.
Here, Ives said that there was no compelling reason for Rauner to sign the bill into law. He, in fact, purposely took no public positions on social issues when he ran the first time.
“It just shows that he and his wife (she a self-professed life-long Democrat) are social justice warriors,” Ives said.
Ives will never match the money Rauner, a near billionaire can raise – he already has $67 million in campaign funds. Despite this, she’s starting to pick up supporters, including Virginia Halas McCaskey, the head of the family that owns the Chicago Bears.
Miller writes that several Republican congressmen – Mike Bost, Darin LaHood, Peter Roskam and John Shimkus – have declined to say they support Rauner’s renomination when asked by reporters.
And he writes that the 53-year-old Ives is no gadfly.
“She looks like the kind of pro-life conservative who can beat a pro-choice incumbent in a Republican primary,” Miller wrote.
“In conversation, Ives resembles a policy nerd as she rattles off obscure facts about the state budget’s rotten math. She’s the sort of person who ought to be one of Rauner’s key partners in Springfield. ‘I’m giving up a safe seat to do this,’ she says. ‘We can have real reform in Illinois, or we can let the courts step in and mandate more taxes — and if that happens, even more people will stick for-sale signs at the ends of their driveways.’”