State House Republican Leader Jim Durkin (R-Western Springs) and Senate Minority Leader Bill Brady (R-Bloomington)
Illinois' two Republican legislative leaders believe conservative voters will eventually get behind Gov. Bruce Rauner this fall, overlooking his efforts to expand taxpayer funding of abortion in the state.
State House Republican Leader Jim Durkin (R-Western Springs) and Senate Minority Leader Bill Brady (R-Bloomington) emphasized party unity on recent talk shows ahead of the re-starting of the spring legislative session.
"Republicans will come together," Brady said on WBBM-AM 780's "At Issue" with Craig Dellimore. "The quicker we come together, the better off we will be. I believe Gov. Rauner and many of us, my Senate Republican colleagues in our caucus are doing everything they can to unify the party."
Durkin called last month's GOP primary battles "spats" and expressed optimism that conservatives would eventually support the party.
"There’s a difference of opinion on (taxpayer funding of abortion)," said Durkin on the Chicago Tribune's "Sunday Spin" with reporter Rick Pearson. "But think of all the things that we agree on with the governor. Republicans around the state have to make a decision. Single issue voters.. are they going to stay home? I doubt it. Because (Democrat gubernatorial nominee) J.B. Pritzker has shown that he is more abortion-rights than Gov. Rauner. That to me is not mainstream Illinois."
Rauner has drawn ire for promising Republican voters during his first run for governor that he had "no social agenda," then pledging last April to veto a measure that would mandate Illinois taxpayer-funded abortion.
Durkin blamed Democrats for using a "trick" to force Rauner to back House Bill 40, the bill that expanded taxpayer-funding of abortion.
"Social issues are put there," he said. "And this was placed as a very strategic move by the Democrats to place the Republican governor into a trick bag. (Republican voters) should see through it. The governor was forced to take a (stance) on H.B. 40, a bill that has been sitting around in the legislature for over eight years. And they conveniently found a time to call it to create some havoc within the Republican party."
Durkin said conservative voters could rest assured that Rauner won't push for more abortion expansion in his second term.
"The governor has been very clear about his position," Durkin said. "(Abortion) is not a priority for the governor."