Chicago Republican Party Chairman Chris Cleveland has heard all the rumblings about Gov. Bruce Rauner’s attempt to “buy off” GOP county organizations as part of his re-election effort, but he’s convinced no amount of money in the world can save him from himself.
“Four years ago, Bruce Rauner bought a number of Republican endorsements by busing people in to endorsement sessions and buying them memberships in the local organization,” Cleveland told the Prairie State Wire. “When he won the primary, he threw everyone out of the state party and took it over for himself. Now, after four years, he's back with wads of cash, trying to buy off county organizations. In politics, money can buy you friends, at least temporarily, but he isn't going to be able to buy enough to get re-elected.”
According to Illinois Family Action, that hasn’t stopped him from trying.
The nonprofit, tax-exempt legislative action arm of the Illinois Family Institute says Rauner is at it again, offering county party chairmen everything from $20,000 in cash to candidate training and website support in exchange for their endorsement in his GOP primary race against Rep. Jeanne Ives (R-Wheaton).
Republican State Central Committee member Jan Klass recently told Illinois Action she knows of at least one instance where Rauner met with several GOP county chairmen in Rockford to offer them such support and to try to explain away having signed off on such controversial measures as taxpayer-funded abortion expansion bill and the transgender birth certificate bill.
“If he had done a good job, that wouldn't be necessary,” Cleveland said of talk of Rauner looking to make the same kinds of deals he felt he had no choice but to make in 2014. “He has betrayed the party and the platform. He has nothing but contempt for those who do the work on the ground but lack the kind of money he has.”
In the end, Cleveland is convinced that such a level of hubris will prove to be Rauner’s downfall in his bare-knuckles brawl against Ives.
“He promised to rebuild the party infrastructure, but did nothing for any organization he did not control,” he said.